Physically Challenged Nigerian Immigrant Faces Deportation From The US

By Ikenga Chronicles September 10, 2018

Physically Challenged Nigerian Immigrant Faces Deportation From The US

Francis Anwana, a deaf and disabled Nigerian who was 14 years old when he came to the United States on a student visa is currently facing deportation. This came as the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office told Anwana he would be deported on Tuesday, Sept. 11, according to advocates for Anwana.

After the advocates raised concerns, ICE told them on Friday that his deportation has been postponed. Anwana has a meeting with ICE set for Sept. 21. Susan Reed, an Attorney with the Michigan Immigrant Rights Centre said that given his severe disabilities, it would be a virtual “death sentence” for him.

“This removal is not imminent at this time,” Khaalid Walls, spokesman for the Michigan and Ohio office of ICE, said Friday.

Several years ago, his visa was not renewed because he was often moved around from group homes and caretakers lost track of his case, said local advocates. They repeatedly tried to get him a path to citizenship, but failed. He has no criminal record, advocates also say.

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Anwana was born in a small village in the area of Lagos, Nigeria, one of about eight or 10 children, said Diane Newman, an educator who has assisted Anwana over the years.

“It was a very loving family,” Newman said. “But they understood they would not be able to provide him a life in Nigeria … as a handicapped person.”

After immigrating to the U.S., he was able to learn sign language and lived in Flint for most of his life before moving to Detroit in January to stay at a different group home.

“About a decade ago, someone tried to help him by applying for citizenship,” said Reed, the immigration attorney helping him. “He was denied because he was ineligible, placed in deportation proceedings, and finally denied asylum, which he sought based on conditions for people with his condition in Nigeria.”

Anwana has been compliant with his orders to show up for regular check-ins. On Tuesday, he was told by ICE to show up the next day again, when he was then told he would have to leave on Sept. 11.

The move stunned longtime immigration advocates who say such an order failed to take into consideration Anwana’s unusual circumstances of being disabled, and the fact he has lived in the U.S. for so long.

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On Friday, he communicated to the Free Press by sign language through a translator, Sarah Shaw, who has known him for years. The two were students at the school for the deaf in Flint.

“I am happy living in the U.S.,” he said.

Shaw, who is helping Anwana navigate ICE check-ins, said he is unable to understand what deportation is and his immigration proceedings.