A Nigerian man who is deaf and has intellectual disabilities now faces deportation after living in Michigan for the past 35 years.
Francis Anwana, 48, was 13 when he came to the U.S. on a student visa. He enrolled at the Lutheran Residential School for the Deaf in Detroit and later attended high school at Michigan School for the Deaf. Anwana currently lives in an adult foster care center in Detroit. His visa expired years ago and was never renewed because caretakers lost track of his case as he’s moved from various group homes, USA Today reported.
Anwana was scheduled to be deported on Tuesday, but his deportation was stopped amid outcry from advocates and the support of U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee. An Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokesman told the Associated Press that ICE will allow Anwana to “make arrangements to depart the U.S. voluntarily.” Anwana will meet with ICE officials Sept. 21.
Kildee introduced legislation, known as a private bill for immigration relief, that would grant Anwana permanent U.S. resident status or a green card. Kildee said in a statement:
Francis was brought here as a child and America is the only country he knows. Despite being deaf, Francis continues to volunteer in the community and be an active member in his church. It would be wrong to deport Francis to Nigeria, where he has no family, means to communicate or ability to take care of himself. I will continue to fight on Francis’ behalf and I urge the Trump Administration to use its discretion on this case to allow him to remain in the United States.
Kildee has worked with Anwana on his immigration case since 2015. Anwana’s illegal status will remain the same while the bill makes its way through Congress. A Change.org petition supporting Anwana’s petition has received almost 2,000 signatures.
Susan Reed, an attorney with the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center, told Michigan Radio that if Anwana is forced to return to Nigeria, he will not only be uprooted “socially and spiritually,” he will likely be unable to communicate with anyone or find a way to support himself in a country he hasn’t seen since he was a child.