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VIDEO: Eugene Wamalwa’s relative to be deported from US after court rejects appeal

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BY CHRIS WAMALWA

A relative of Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa is to be deported from the US after his appeal for political asylum was denied.

Dr Mzenga Aggrey Wanyama, who teaches at Augsburg University in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and his wife Mary Namalwa Mzenga, have attracted huge support as they face deportation from a country they have lived in for 25 years.

“Well, what can I do? If they want me to buy my own ticket, I will do that,” he told the Minneapolis-based StarTribune newspaper on Thursday. Dr Wanyama told the publication that he had resigned himself to the deportation at a time when US President Donald Trump is increasingly taking a hard-line stance on immigration.

On Friday, Dr Wanyama and his wife met in the Twin Cities (Saint Paul and Minneapolis) with officials of Immigration and Customs Enforcement to review their case and discuss plans for deportation.

REPORT TO IMMIGRATION

Dr Wanyama was ordered to report back to the immigration officials next month to plan for his repatriation to Kenya, even as his university and the community of Minneapolis-Saint Paul put pressure on immigration authorities to spare him.

 

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said in a statement that Dr Wanyama was a pillar in the community and the region was better for his work.

“No president, no federal agency will deport Dr Wanyama without a fight from me, from our partners in the state and federal delegations, and from the thousands of people in Minneapolis who share our values,” said Mr Frey.

ENTERED US IN 1992

Dr Wanyama first entered the US in 1992 as a non-immigrant exchange visitor.

He was followed in 1995 by his wife and children Billy Levin Mzenga, 30, and Billy Masibai Mzenga, 26.

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The two children are protected from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programme.

A third son, a 19-year-old attending the University of Minnesota, was born in the US and is a citizen.

ASYLUM

Upon expiration of his visa in 2005, Dr Wanyama applied for asylum.

He claimed he will be persecuted in Kenya primarily on account of an article he wrote in The Standard newspaper in 2004 criticising the government of President Mwai Kibaki and praising his opponent Raila Odinga.

Dr Wanyama told a US immigration judge that the Kenyan government began harassing his family members in Kenya after the article was published.

He claimed that his brother was fired as managing director of a parastatal, and an MP made “suspicious remarks” to Dr Wanyama’s mother, questioning her about his activities and whereabouts. Several other family members sent emails to Dr Wanyama telling him he should not return to Kenya for safety reasons, he testified before the judge.

POLITICAL OPPONENT

Additionally, as his removal proceedings progressed, Dr Wanyama wrote two more articles in The Standard newspaper supporting Mr Odinga’s candidacy in the 2007 General Election.

After the articles were published, Dr Wanyama claimed the Kenyan government intensified its focus on him as a political opponent based on his involvement with an American political group that supported Mr Odinga.

“To illustrate the danger of being identified as a political opponent, he testified about two of Kibaki’s opponents that he believes suffered persecution at the hands of the government,” United Courts of Appeal for the Eight Circuit heard in 2012.

He told the court that his cousin Vice-President Kijana Wamalwa’s death in a London Hospital in 2003 after a long illness, was under “suspicious circumstances”.

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“Wanyama theorised that Kibaki’s government was responsible because Wamalwa was slated to succeed Kibaki as president pursuant to a memorandum of understanding,” the court heard.

DON’S MURDER

He also testified about a professor from the University of Nairobi whom he believed was murdered for proposing the transfer of some power from the presidency to a new prime minister’s position, the court further heard.

The professor in question is likely to be Dr Crispin Odhiambo Mbai who was gunned down in his Nairobi home by unknown assailants in September 2003.

At the time of his death, Dr Mbai was a delegate and the chairman of the sub-committee on devolution of power at the National Constitutional Conference of Kenya.

After a hearing in April 2008, the immigration judge closed the proceedings, but asked the parties to submit additional documentation.

In December 2009, the judge reopened Dr Wanyama’s case to allow the parties to submit additional evidence, which included evidence of improved country conditions as a result of the formation of the grand coalition government in Kenya in 2008.

PERSECUTION

Although it was found Wanyama’s testimony was credible to establish a subjective fear of persecution, the judge determined that Dr Wanyama failed to show an objectively reasonable fear of future persecution.

Dr Wanyama appealed the case to the Board of Immigration Appeals, where he also claimed the judge violated his due process rights by delaying his decision and reopening the case sua sponte(without formal prompting from another party) in December 2009, thereby allowing the US government to present evidence of recently improved country conditions in Kenya.

The board affirmed the immigration judge’s decision because it found that the lecturer’s testimony could not support an objectively reasonable fear of future persecution, and it denied his due process claim.

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APPEAL

Dr Wanyama then took his case to the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit which also ruled against him in November 2012.

“In summary, after reviewing the record, we affirm the denial of Wanyama’s petition for asylum on behalf of himself and his family,” the court ruled.

The Wanyamas case, like many others in the US, has gained a sense of urgency in the wake of President Trump administration’s pledges to tighten border security and step up efforts to deport those who are in the country illegally.

The president of Augsburg University Paul Pribbenow on Thursday joined supporters who fear that a professor is being unfairly targeted for deportation despite his many years as a higher education instructor and crime-free life in the US.

ROLE MODEL

“Dr Wanyama is a role model for the professional aspirations and accomplishments of future leaders in our city and country,” Mr Pribbenow told the StarTribune. “We strongly stand behind him and believe he should be able to stay in the US.”

Ms Sarah Wairimu Brooks, a Kenyan lawyer based in Dallas, Texas, cautions Kenyans living in the US who find themselves in similar circumstances to be wary of signing documents from immigration officers in the absence of a credible immigration lawyer.

“Wanyama’s and other similar cases, which by the way run into thousands if not millions, were previously deemed as low priority by immigration during the Obama administration, in part because he is a full-time professor and has no criminal record. But, in the Trump administration, these are some of the people that are considered to be taking away jobs from Americans,” she said.

-Nation.co.ke

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Uhuru will not meet Kenyans in US as he visits New York

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President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is expected to arrive in the US for the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 73), has no plans to meet with Kenyans living there.

Speaking to the  Nation from New York on Saturday, Kenyan ambassador to the US Robinson Njeru Githae said neither the embassy nor the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has scheduled any meeting between the president and the Kenyans in diaspora.

“As far as I know, there are no such plans but the President will be attending so many meetings with heads of states and development partners while in New York,” said Mr Githae.

This is the second time President Kenyatta has shunned the diaspora during his trip to the US in less than a month.

Late last month, President Kenyatta was in Washington, DC for two days to meet with President Trump at the White House but did not meet with the diaspora.

TAX LAW

But analysts say the current politics is not right especially after the President signed into law the controversial bill that raised taxes.

“The president was bound to face a barrage of questions if not outright heckling from the diaspora. Many had planned to ask very tough questions,” said Dr Duncan Obare of Manchester, New Hampshire.

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The 73rd General Assembly opened on September 18.

The first day of the high-level General Debate will be on Tuesday September 25 and is scheduled to last for nine working days.

Mr Githae said President Kenyatta will, among others, reaffirm multilateralism and shared responsibility, discuss peace and security, champion youth leadership and entrepreneurship, promote investment in Kenya and promote the launch of direct flights to New York.

Daily Nation

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Clues that linked Obado to murder

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BY OLIVIA MUNGWANA

A statement by one of Migori Governor Okoth Obado’s aides assisted detectives to break the deadlock that led them to arrest him over the murder of Rongo University student Sharon Otieno.

Although detectives say phone records show the governor communicated with some of those arrested before him at around the same time Sharon went missing, the police were under pressure to conclude the case that was nearly going cold.

Casper Otieno who runs errands for the governor presented himself to the police on Tuesday after a Toyota Fielder he drives was identified as having been used in the kidnap two weeks ago. The governor’s other assistant, Michael Oyamo, has been in custody since September 2 and has already been charged with Sharon’s murder.

What was remaining was to determine whether the two assistants to the governor together with three others in custody acted on their own or there were other people involved. It is said the police tried to convince them to confess and get a lesser charge in return.

This will be seen in the coming week as it has not yet been determined whether to compile the six suspects into one case or charge them separately. Oyamo and former Kanyadoto MCA Lawrence Mula have already been charged with the murder.

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Among the options being considered is to charge those who have cooperated with a lesser offence of conspiracy to commit murder and turn them into state witnesses against the rest.

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Domestic violence deaths on the rise in diaspora

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Zachary Moitui, a Kenyan-born resident of Jersey City, New Jersey, thought he had seen the worst of human brutality when he found himself at the centre of a gruesome murder in America that made headlines around the world.

On October 2010, Evans Kebabe bludgeoned his wife and their two children to death in their Vadnais Heights apartment in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The bodies of his wife Bilha Omare, 32, and their two children then aged 12 and 9 were found on October 14 in their apartment.

Kebabe, who is now serving a jail term handed down to him on January 2011, was arrested after his car ran out of gas while trying to flee.

Mr Moitui, a respected elder of the Kenyan community in Jersey, led plans to move the bodies from Minneapolis to Jersey City for burial.

“It was a heartbreaking time for our diaspora community because in all honesty, we had never witnessed such brutality and never imagined we had such people among us.

“That was until of course recently, when something eerily similar happened right here in Jersey City,” said Mr Moitui.

MURDER/SUICIDE
Mr Moitui was referring to the news early in the week that another Kenyan couple had been found dead in their home and that the husband was suspected to have shot his wife before turning the gun on himself.

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The local press reported that authorities in Jersey City were investigating a murder-suicide after police discovered bodies of a man and woman dead from gunshot wounds.

It turns out that the couple — Henry Okong’o and Lydiah Okong’o — were in fact people Mr Moitui was not only familiar with but also related to one of them.

“The late Lydia was my niece. Fourteen years ago when they started having domestic issues, Lydia moved out and lived with me for five months.

“She went back after we helped them to reconcile. Little did I know it would turn out as it did on Monday,” Mr Moitui said.

RECONCILIATION
He added: “I’m not only feeling devastated by her death, I’m also wondering whether reconciling them was the best thing to do.

“What I did then to reconcile them was what any parent would do for the good of the family, especially the children but, here we are!”

The couple has been living in the 2 Mina Drive property for over a decade and neighbours are still confounded by the incident.

“Three children have been left without parents. This is so sad,” one neighbour was quoted by the local press as saying.

Dr George Omburo, one of the Seventh day Adventists church elders, said the couple “had a tough marriage”.

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DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
This incident and many others that seem to have escalated in the recent past involving the Kenyan Diaspora have left many wondering what exactly is going on within the community that is usually reluctant to discuss issues of domestic violence openly.

“Having lived in the US for more than 10 years, and having witnessed a lot of these cases, I can confidently say that the major cause of domestic disagreements among Kenyans is the reversal of gender roles as we know them,” Mr Chris Majani, a Kenyan-born resident of Dallas, Texas, said.

Saturday Nation

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