A deaf and disabled Nigerian immigrant is facing deportation after 34 years in the United States
Anwana, 48, lives in Detroit at an adult foster care facility, helping mow the lawns and mop the floors at a nearby church.
Born and raised in Nigeria, Anwana was just 14 years old when he came to the United States on a student visa.
Anwana, who is deaf and cognitively impaired, came to Michigan in the early 80s to attend the Lutheran School for the Deaf.
After he graduated and his student visa expired, several people tried to help Anwana gain citizenship. But because he no longer had a valid visa, he was ineligible to gain legal status.
Last Wednesday, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement told Anwana he would be deported on Tuesday, Sept. 11, according to advocates for Anwana. After the advocates raised concerns, ICE told them Friday that his deportation has been postponed. Anwana has a meeting with ICE set for Sept. 21.
In 2006, ICE found out about Anwana’s overstay in the states. An attorney fought for Anwana’s right to claim asylum, but the request was denied, and in 2008, he was ordered to be removed from the country.
In the 10 years since the verdict, Anwana has remained in the United States, living in group homes and creating a community for himself here. Friends and lawyers say he doesn’t completely understand his immigration status because of his disabilities. Nonetheless, they say he has appeared with a caseworker in front of immigration officials each year and complied with their requests.
Diane Newman was Anwana’s first teacher at the Lutheran School for the Deaf. Her family took Anwana in for holidays over the years, and in a
Facebook post she put up Thursday evening, she called him an “an adopted and loved member of our family.”
Newman says Anwana would have no opportunities or safety in Nigeria due to his disabilities. She says he was attacked as a child by guerillas, and his arm is still damaged from the event. Newman worries he’ll run into similar — or much worse — situations if forced to return.
“He’s happy here, he’s acclimated well, he doesn’t cause any problems, and this is the life that he has wanted,” she says. “And it would be a travesty… if he had to go back.”
Tania Morris Diaz is a staff attorney at the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center. She’s been working on Anwana’s case, and she agrees that returning to Nigeria could be disastrous for him.
“We just believe that sending him back to Nigeria would basically be a death sentence for him as he needs desperately the care of other people,” Morris Diaz said.
Morris Diaz thinks ICE agreed to delay Anwana’s deportation because of the short notice and special circumstances his case presents. She emphasized, though, that this is not a complete solution for Anwana. Morris Diaz says MIRC will continue their work with Anwana to keep him from being deported in the future
Given his severe disabilities, it would be a virtual “death sentence” for him, said Susan Reed, an attorney with the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center.
Because of his disability, Anwana can only read at a second-grade level and is unable to mentally grasp the fact he could be forced to go back to Nigeria, according to advocates and his lawyer.
“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 say.
Anwana was born in a small village in Nigeria, one of about eight or 10 children, said Newman.
“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.
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.
Anwana enjoys soccer and basketball and helping out with chores.
“He’s been a model citizen,” said Shaw.
Reed said that he “has lived in group homes and supportive environments for many years and won the love and friendship of many, but he has no family in the U.S. His elderly mother in Nigeria has no ability to support him or meet any of his medical needs. He needs medication to manage his conditions.”
Fatou-Seydi Sarr, with the African Bureau for Immigration and Social Affairs, said that “with his condition, life in Nigeria will be very, very bad, and can lead to death for not receiving proper medical care.”
Petrol Subsidy Not Completely Gone, Says Minister
Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva has stated that contrary to popular belief, the federal government has not completely removed petrol subsidy.
Speaking on Channels’ Politics Today, the minister said: “We are still trying to manage this bumpy start. We have not been able to get to that 100 percent removal of subsidy from the foreign exchange end.
“If we were to take it out completely and allow people to access foreign exchange from the parallel market and allow people to import the product, the price of the pump will even be more.
“The Federal Government, knowing the impact it will have on the people, decided that they are still going to manage this situation.”
Speaking on the importation of petrol from Niger, the Minister expressed that the importation of fuel from the Niger Republic is not something Nigerians should be embarrassed about.
He expressed that Nigerians should be proud that the Federal Government is set to resume the importation of petroleum products from its neighbour.
‘Your Report On Lekki Capable Of Setting Nigeria On Fire’ — Lai Writes CNN
JustLai MohammedMinister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed has expressed that the CNN report on the Lekki Tollgate shooting of October 20 2020 is capable of setting the country on fire.
Recall that CNN had published an investigative report titled, ‘How a bloody night of bullets and brutality quashed a young protest movement in Nigeria,’ claiming soldiers fired live ammunition directly at protesters at the Lekki toll gate.
But Nigeria’s Minister for Information denied the report of the US-based cable television, calling for a sanction on CNN over the report, adding that the report on the Lekki tollgate incident was highly irresponsible.
Reacting in another story titled, ‘Nigeria threatens CNN with sanctions but provides no evidence Lekki toll gate investigation is inaccurate’, CNN maintained that it stood by its earlier report on the Lekki tollgate incident.
In a petition dated November 23 and addressed to Mr. Jonathan Hawkins VP, Communications, CNN Centre Atlanta, Georgia U.S, the federal government demanded “an immediate and exhaustive investigation into its report on the Lekki Toll Gate incident to determine its authenticity and conformity to basic standards of journalism.”
Lai Mohammed, who signed the petition, said if the US-based media organisation failed to carry out its demand, the Nigerian government will “take any action within its laws’’ to prevent CNN from aggravating the End SARS crisis.
Amaechi Apologises For Abuja-Kaduna Train Breakdown
Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has apologised to Nigerians for the breakdown at the Abuja-Kaduna railway which occurred between November 18 and November 20.
The former Governor of Rivers State stated this at the Moniya rail station on Monday while inspecting the ongoing rail project in Ibadan.
Amaechi pointed out that the Chinese have been called to attend to the problem as the federal government does not expect any mechanical fault at this early stage.
Ameachi said, “I want to apologise to Nigerians over what happened at the Abuja-Kaduna rail station.”
“We now have new locomotives, and we’ve called the Chinese because we never expected the mechanical fault at this early stage.”
“On behalf of the Federal Government, the ministry and the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), we apologise to Nigerians, and I’ve instructed the NRC to fix it or invite the Chinese.”
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