A student pilot from Egypt is facing deportation from the US after posting on Facebook that the world would thank him if he killed Donald Trump.
Emadeldin Elsayed, 23, has not been charged with a crime but authorities are trying to remove him from the country, his attorney, Hani Bushra, said.
Mr Elsayed is being held in a jail in Orange, California.
An immigration court hearing will determine whether he will be deported.
“It seems like the government was not able to get a criminal charge to stick on him, so they used the immigration process to have him leave the country,” Mr Bushra said.
“The rhetoric is particularly high in this election, and I just feel he got caught up in the middle,” he added.
Ban on Muslims
US Secret Service agents interviewed Mr Elsayed in early February after he posted a photo of Mr Trump on Facebook and wrote he was willing to serve a life sentence for killing the billionaire, and the world would thank him, Mr Bushra said.
Mr Elsayed said he wrote the message because he was angered by Mr Trump’s comments about Muslims. He said he immediately regretted it and he never intended to harm anyone.
Mr Trump, who is leading the race for the Republican nomination for the presidency, has promised a crackdown on immigration. He has vowed to build a wall along the entire Mexican border and called for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the country.
The agents returned eight days later and told him federal prosecutors had declined to charge him but said his visa to attend flight school had been revoked. He was then arrested by immigration authorities.
“It’s just a stupid post. You can find thousands of these every hour on Facebook and the media,” he told the Associated Press from jail.
“I don’t know why they would think I am a threat to the national security of the United States just because of a stupid post.”
Mr Elsayed said the agent who interviewed him mentioned last year’s shooting rampage by a Muslim husband-and-wife couple in San Bernardino and the 9/11 terror attacks, which were carried out by Muslims who undertook flight training in the US.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in a statement that Mr Elsayed was arrested because he violated “the terms of his admission to the United States”.
The state department, secret service and representatives for Mr Trump all declined to comment, according to the Associated Press.