A disabled Nigerian man Francis Anwana is set to be deported 34 years after he arrived the United States on a student visa.
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.
Now 48, Anwana lives in Detroit at an adult foster care facility, helping mow the lawns and mop the floors at a nearby church on Detroit’s west side.
But in a shock to immigrant advocates, the U.S. now wants to deport him to Nigeria, a country he has not lived since he was a teenager.
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, one of about eight or 10 children, 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.
On Wednesday, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) told Anwana he would be deported on Tuesday, Sept. 11, but after the advocates raised concerns, ICE told them that his deportation has been postponed.
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.
On Friday, he communicated to the Free Press by sign language through a translator, Sarah Shaw, who has known him for years.”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 because 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.”