Amos Yee's asylum bid could last between weeks & years

First hearing on Jan. 30, 2017, will determine the length of his wait.

Belmont Lay | January 12, 2017, 09:41 PM

Amos Yee will have his first hearing at the Chicago Immigration Court on Jan. 30, 2017.

Grossman Law, the legal firm representing the 18-year-old Singaporean, said an initial asylum application will be filed at the hearing along with evidence.

How the case proceeds will depend on the judge.

A further hearing will be scheduled if the judge finds a legitimate claim for asylum or protection under the United Nations Convention Against Torture.

If Yee remains in custody, the hearing could be scheduled within eight to 10 weeks of the initial hearing.

However, if he is released from custody, backlogs in the immigration courts could mean it takes years for his claim to be heard.

This is according to a statement by Grossman Law on Wednesday, Jan. 11.

The statement said: “With more than 520,000 cases pending in US immigration courts, asylum applicants from all over the world are subjected to lengthy wait times.”

The 18-year-old Singaporean male is currently still detained in the McHenry County Adult Correctional Facility in Woodstock, Illinois.

He reportedly sought political asylum on Dec. 16, 2016, after he landed at O’Hare Airport in Chicago.

Yee has so far served two prison terms in Singapore for wounding religious feelings.

In July 2015, Yee was sentenced to four weeks’ jail after he pleaded guilty to six charges for wounding the religious feelings of Christians and Muslims.

In late September 2016, Yee was again sentenced to six weeks’ jail for the same offence.

Yee told Reuters in an interview late December when still under detention that he wanted to live in Illinois and has no plans to return to Singapore to be part of National Service. He has not contacted the Singapore government.

Melissa Chen, a Singaporean human rights activist who is now a legal permanent resident of the US, had helped Yee go to the US and has corresponded with the public on his behalf.

Yee's latest call for donations to help him relocate to the US, however, appears to be falling on deaf ears, as he has only managed to raise about a quarter of his $10,000 target.

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