Kingsley had to wait seven weeks in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) jails before he could see a judge, but that’s okay with him. Anything is better than what he fled in Cameroon, where he said authorities tortured him three times, jailed him for his political activism, and burned down his family’s house after he escaped custody.
His asylum officer determined that he had a “credible fear” of returning, but ICE, in keeping with Trump administration policy, kept him in custody at the Adams County Correctional Facility in Natchez, Mississippi. That continued for more than a month even after a judge granted him release on bond upon hearing his appeal by video in a New York immigration court. He was released Oct. 29.
Kingsley (not his full name), 29, doesn’t complain about his long wait. “Once I had that belief that one day I will be free, one day I will be able to see outside and live like a free person and live in a society where I won’t have to always look over my shoulder like I did in Cameroon, you know, that alone gave me joy,” he said in a telephone interview from Houston, where he is living with his brother. “So I really didn’t bother much about how long I spent in jail, because I lived in jail so many years back there in Cameroon.”