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MY STORY: Meet US-Based Kenyan man who has spent a Decade fighting Deportation [VIDEO]

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A Kenyan-born man who has been fighting deportation from the United States for the last 10 years has shared his story with the Voice of America (VOA).

Sylvester Owino is a small business owner  and a rights activist based in San Diego, California. His family owns Rafikiz Foodz — an authentic African food vendor offering “Kenyan food for your soul,” using fresh ingredients from the local farmers market.

Those who encounter Owino’s welcoming personality are not aware what happens once he is done working for the day. A convicted felon who robbed a shop, Owino is fighting to stay in the United States through an asylum case that has lasted nearly a decade.

Owino arrived in the U.S. from Kenya in 1998 on a student visa, leaving a country where he said he was beaten, jailed and threatened by the government.

Five years later, an addiction to alcohol and gambling derailed him.

“I was going to college, but I used to drink too much,” he said. “And I just quit college because of what had happened in my path and everything. I found this job after leaving college. I was working with disadvantaged people. And then I met some friends through work, and we started drinking after work, go to the casinos, and they introduced me to gambling,” he said.

During one of his last visits to the casino, he found himself out of money and decided to rob a nail salon. He was convicted of second-degree robbery.

“I thought I was going to get probation. And nobody ever explained to me the immigration consequences. So I took a plea, which gave me three years,” Owino said.

He completed a two-year prison sentence and was transferred to the Otay Mesa Detention Center, as Immigration and Customs Enforcement began removal proceedings.

While in detention, Owino began waging what became a more than nine year fight against deportation.

Resisting deportation in the Trump era

Owino is among the more than 1 million people who President Donald Trump has targeted for deportation, including many who were convicted of serious crimes.  Owino is an example of immigrants who broke the law and suffered consequences, but who turned their lives around and now are asking for a second chance to remain in the U.S.

READ ALSO:   Kenyans in US have until June 19th to register for Huduma Namba

However, the nation is sharply divided over immigration policy, and many Americans believe that people like Owino who were convicted of violent crimes should be deported back to their country of origin. Indeed, a Gallup poll earlier this year found that 37% of adults strongly favor or favor deporting all immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.

“It’s not right to have these cases dragged on forever, it’s not fair to anybody,” said Jessica M. Vaughan, director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies, which backs Trump’s immigration policies. “On the other hand, we have no obligation to allow people to stay here if their behavior is causing problems in our communities. And if they disqualified themselves from the ability to stay here as a permanent resident,” then they have to accept the consequences of their behavior.”

 

 




 

Inside detention

Subject to mandatory immigration detention, Owino was not entitled to a bond hearing.

 

“When I got there, I was in a complete shock. I thought, ‘This was supposed to be better (than state prison,)’ but actually it was worse. … The officers treated us like we have no rights, like we are not human beings,” Owino said.

In a recent interview with reporters, David Fathi, director at ACLU’s National Prison Project, said most people do not think about mass incarceration and unhealthy conditions when they think of immigration detention.

“These are very vulnerable people. Many of them have suffered major physical and emotional trauma, beatings, starvation or rape, either in their home country or on their journey to the United States,” Fathi said.

Those who are “less” traumatized often suffer from cultural dislocation, family separation and the stresses of incarceration, including overcrowding and solitary confinement.

FILE - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents surround and detain a person during a raid in Richmond, Va.
FILE-U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents surround and detain a person during a raid in Richmond, Va.

A Homeland Security inspector general report released at the beginning of the month showed that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had failed to meet government standards for housing migrant detainees at multiple facilities in 2018.

READ ALSO:   VIDEO: Trump insists on scrapping Green card lottery and make e-verify mandatory

Investigators conducted unannounced inspections at the Adelanto ICE Processing Center in California, the LaSalle ICE Processing Center in Louisiana, the Essex County Correctional Facility in New Jersey), and the Aurora ICE Processing Center in Colorado.

Poor conditions in facilities

At one of the facilities, inspectors saw mold throughout all the walls in the bathroom area, including shower stalls, ceilings, mirrors, and vents, and warned that prolonged exposure to mold and mildew can cause long-term health issues or allergic reactions.

 

ICE sent a statement to VOA saying the agency “appreciates” the efforts of the Office of Inspector General and that it concurs” with the report’s recommendation and the corrective actions detailed in the report.

“The safety, rights and health of detainees in ICE’s custody are paramount,” ICE said.

On the solitary confinement issue, ICE said the use of restrictive housing in ICE detention facilities is “exceedingly rare, but at times necessary,” to ensure the safety of staff and individuals in a facility.

ICE’s policy to use “special management units” — or solitary confinement cells — is to protect detainees, staff and contractors from harm by segregating certain detainees from the general population for both administrative and disciplinary reasons.

The agency’s spokesperson added that in 2013, ICE issued a directive titled “Review of the Use of Segregation for ICE Detainees,” which requires agency reporting, review, and oversight of every decision to place detainees in segregated housing for over 14 days, and requires immediate reporting and review of segregation placements when heightened concerns exist based on the detainee’s health or other factors.

To Liz Martinez, director of advocacy and strategic communications at Freedom for Immigrants, a nonprofit that has been monitoring the conditions at ICE facilities for years, nothing in the OIG report is “new.”

“The people who are in immigration detention and call us on our free hotline have been reporting these kinds of abuses all the time.” she said.

READ ALSO:   Wealthy Kenyans return Sh118bn stashed abroad

Martinez said the “egregious” violations the OIG found are human rights violations.

“They keep happening over and over again, and no one is held accountable,” she added.

Freedom for Immigrants maintains an up-to-date map of the U.S. immigration detention system with more than 200 immigrant prisons and jails across the country.

According to government data, in fiscal year 2018, about 396,448 people were initially booked into an ICE detention facility, an increase of 22.5% from 2017. ICE’s interior enforcement efforts resulted in a 10% increase in book-ins resulting from ICE arrests.

Freedom for Immigrants’ website shows that 60% of people are held in privately run immigrant prisons.

According to ACLU experts, detained immigrants are the fastest-growing sector of the incarcerated population, from about 35,000 during the Obama years to 52,000 now.

“That’s well above the 45,274 that Congress funded for fiscal year 2019,” Shah said.

 Fighting deportation

After having his case go to the Board of Immigration Appeals twice, and then to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, Owino was granted bond with the help of Freedom for Immigrants.

He said it was difficult fighting a deportation case from detention, since unlike in criminal proceedings, immigrants are not entitled to court-appointed attorneys.

Though there were days he thought about accepting deportation, Owino said he decided to make a plan for himself, instead.

“I was scared to go back (to Kenya) based on what happened to me. … I set a program for myself. I thought, ‘If I get out, no more drinking.’ So, I stayed away from that, and that was my No. 1 priority,” he told VOA.

Owino’s next court date is in September. In the meantime, he enjoys the company of his wife and 11-month-old daughter.

He acknowledges he made serious mistakes in his life, but sees himself as an example of what could happen if detained immigrants are given an opportunity to rebuild their lives.

“I’m just blessed, you know?”

SOURCE: VOA

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Diaspora

VIDEO: Lauren urgently needs help , seeks a kidney from someone who is either ‘A’ or ‘O’ type blood

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Lauren Fulford of Atlanta, Georgia, has been battling kidney failure for over 7 years and she’s running out of time! The situation is dire and only a transplant in the immediate future will save her life!

To learn more about the living donor process or to start testing, please contact Leanne Whitehead, RN, the Living Donor Coordinator at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta and reference Lauren Fulford. Leanne’s number is 404.605.4605. Lauren can receive a kidney from a donor with
A or O blood type.

Here the story as told herself.

MY STORY: ROUND 1

When I was 15 (1994), I was diagnosed with end stage-kidney failure due to immune-complex glomerulonephritis (in other words, my immune system attacked my kidneys and doctors were unable to determine why). Both kidneys I was born with had zero function at that point. Consequently, I was put on dialysis within four months of finding out I was sick.  I was fortunate enough to get a kidney transplant from my father at age 16.  Dad’s kidney got me through high school, college, and most of graduate school.

Watch the video below:

 

MY STORY: ROUND 2

Nine years after the transplant (at age 25), I learned that my body was rejecting the transplanted kidney.  Turns out that my anti-rejection medications were toxic to the kidney over time, and doctors should have switched me to newer medications…but didn’t.  I was once again back on dialysis.  Again, through the support of my wonderful family, I received a second transplant from my younger sister (my brother and other sister were tested but were not matches).  This time, I had multiple complications with the surgery and subsequent rejection episodes for the first six months.

Luren Fulford

Ultimately, my body accepted the kidney.

READ ALSO:   VIDEO: Trump insists on scrapping Green card lottery and make e-verify mandatory

MY STORY: ROUND 3

Fast forward six years to 2010…I consistently was not feeling well.  I was very anemic, always tired, and thought I had along-lasting case of the flu.  After months of blood work and tests, I found out that I was yet again in the early stages of kidney failure and began dialysis for a third time.  My doctor informed me that a trend was recently discovered, indicating that transplant recipients who have received two kidneys from immediate family members were rejecting the second transplant after five to seven years (it was previously expected to last ten plus years).  In addition, when I was having surgery to remove an ovarian cyst, the doctor accidentally nicked the transplanted kidney, causing it to go into shock and it never fully recovered.  In 2012, the kidney was dead and had to be removed since it was making me sick.

WHAT’S GOING ON TODAY:

I am now 39 years old.  I have been on dialysis for over seven years and it has many challenging effects.  I have been told that I am “highly sensitized” (I have high antibody counts) due to having two previous transplants.

My doctors told me that I have less than a 10% chance of finding a kidney.  To prove them wrong, my friends and family started the testing process but no match has been found.  I’m hopeful that someone out there will be a match but time is running out.

SPREAD THE WORD

Tell your friends and family and neighbors and Facebook friends and literally anyone you can think of about Lauren’s story – the more people that know, the more of a chance she has to find a donor and STAY ALIVE!

If you have additional questions, email LaurenNeedsAKidney@gmail.com

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Diaspora

VIDEO: Kenyan man in US charged with sex trafficking and having carnal knowledge of a minor

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A 45 year old Kenyan man from Fort Worth, Texas, is facing charges of trafficking a child. Meshack Ominde was arrested and has since bonded out of jail.

According to court documents released Tuesday and seen by ksnmedia.com, Ominde was driving around a Fort Worth neighborhood last month when he saw two 14-year-old girls who told him they had been kicked out of their homes by their parents.

Police say he gave them each $20, bought them food at Whataburger eatery and paid for a hotel room on East Loop 820 in Fort Worth.

However, Ominde told the investigators that he went to the girls’ hotel room on Oct. 8, drove one of them for doughnuts and touched the girl’s breast, but he never had sex with her, according to an arrest warrant.

The 14-year-old girl told Fort Worth police Ominde took her to his office where he had sex with her and asked to take pictures of her breasts, according to the warrant obtained by the local media.

 

 

The warrant written by Detective V. Coronado gave this brief account of the incident:

On Oct. 7, the two 14-year-old girls were walking together on an unknown Fort Worth street. The two ran away from home the previous weekend.

READ ALSO:   VIDEO: Trump insists on scrapping Green card lottery and make e-verify mandatory

A man approached them and offered to get them a hotel room and food. That man was later identified as Meshack Ominde.

 

One of the girls said he took them to Goodwill to buy clothes and to a hotel near a highway.

On Oct. 8, Ominde came to their rooms, where he performed a sex act on one of the girls while she was under the bed covers. He then took that girl and told her they were going to get doughnuts and food. He asked her if the girls wanted to have a threesome and she said no.

Ominde told the girl she would need to have sex with him in exchange for the hotel room, according to the warrant. The girl said they had sex at his office. He then returned her to the hotel room and left.

Later on Oct. 8, Fort Worth police responded to two runaway girls at the Economy Inn, 5420 E. Loop 820, in Fort Worth. Initially, officials with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services had found them in the hotel room.

The girls later told detectives about the sexual abuse, according to the warrant.

Ominde was freed after he posted $100,000 bail on Monday.

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Diaspora

EXPLAINED: Visitor’s Visa, Work Visa or Student Visa- How can you come and work in USA?

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BY BOB MWITI

Well, I get asked so many questions on a daily basis about living and working in USA and I try to answer them on my inbox as much as possible.

If you inbox me and I don’t respond immediately, please just give me time and I will.

So I will explain a bit about the above 3 visas, in the best way possible.

I don’t sugar-coat things and this may not be for you if all you want to hear is the sweet stuff!!

Also, please understand that in this post, I am only addressing those with at least a Bachelor’s degree.

Now, let me start with the visit visa.

If you are a young university graduate and your intention is to get a visit visa so that you can come and work here, please stop that madness!

That is a wrong approach and chances are you will not set foot in America.

It is extremely hard to get visit visa approval, if you DO NOT have strong ties to your home country, which most young people don’t have and therefore are considered a high risk for visa overstay!

Honestly speaking, a visit visa is the worst visa that you can use to come to America if your intention is to remain here and work.

Are we together??…This is the bitter truth that no one will tell you out there!….Don’t be ignorant!..Be wise!

Well, If you are lucky to get a visit visa, once you are here you will just be working under the table because you won’t have the right working immigration documents.

However, this type of visa may be a “good” one for you if you are;

READ ALSO:   Wealthy Kenyans return Sh118bn stashed abroad

1. Extremely desperate and you have no Job back home.

2. You really don’t care being in America without the correct working documents and risking deportation.

3. You don’t mind not seeing your family back home for a long period of time.

If you tick all those 3 boxes, then Yes, a visit visa may be a “good” one for you.

Again,I repeat, this is the worst visa to come with if your sole intention is to live and work in America long term.

I hope I am clear.

How about work visa?

Work visas are extremely hard to get because you must actually get a highly skilled Job offer here first, then your to-be employer will have to file for your work papers from these sides for you.

Once that is approved, then you can seek the visa at the Embassy in your country of domicile.

The problem is, although work visas exist, it is very hard to find companies who are willing to sponsor you especially if you are in Africa.

Yes, a lot of Indians do come here on work visas such as L1, and H1Bs but the reason is that most big tech companies in USA are actually Indian-owned companies.

For example Infosys, Accenture, Wipro, Tata consulting to name but a few…..

These companies provide resources to work in IT projects across North America..and there is a ready market of skilled IT professionals in India.

As an African, if you are a nurse and you want to work here, you have a very high chance of coming as a skilled worker.

I know of nurses who have come to work here in America from Africa and there are African companies that facilitate that.

READ ALSO:   Kenyans in US have until June 19th to register for Huduma Namba

BUT for the rest of the folks,…. well, you have to find other means!

And the other means is a student visa,

A student visa, is the best non-immigrant visa to actually use to come to USA.

Why?

Because a student visa has a clear path to citizenship.

Meaning, with a student visa, once you graduate, you have a chance of getting a post-graduation work permit called OPT of 1-3 years depending on what you studied.

During that post graduation OPT time, you can find an employer willing to sponsor your long term work authorization and subsequently a green card and later on you can become a citizen if you wish.

This is actually the route that I used…..and it is extremely effective although a lot of our African brothers & sisters who come to USA as students do not use it for lack of proper guidance and Information.

Now you may ask, which is the best career out there in America that you might have a chance of getting a Job in.

IT is huge here..There is a very high demand of IT professionals and it is easy to get work authorization once you graduate.

Same with nursing.There is a huge demand of nurses. Most other professions, unfortunately not so!

So generally speaking, STEM professions…i.e Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics are your best bet for good Jobs here in America that come with working papers.

So now you may ask ….how do you come to USA as a student?

Unfortunately, you must have enough finances to cover for your studies.

If you DON’T, you will NOT get a student visa..Again, that is the bitter truth!

READ ALSO:   VIDEO: Trump insists on scrapping Green card lottery and make e-verify mandatory

So, are there any ways of getting funding?

Yes, you can actually find millions worth of scholarships for FREE at www.successwithbobmwiti.com or you can also find secured and unsecured international student loans to finance your education here in America.

I hope I have answered your questions!

ABOUT ME

I am a former international student in USA and I am a senior IT consultant in the areas of Oracle EBS and Robotics Process Automation.

I am the programs director of Appstec America – A consulting company based in Tampa, Florida,USA.

I’ve been blessed to have learned and achieved a lot in my career as an IT consultant.

My life has truly changed, and I’ve made it my mission to give back and serve others beyond myself.

Whether that be helping you to relocate to USA as an international student, train you as an IT consultant, help you start and build your own business, creating your financial freedom, motivating you to pursue your goals and dreams, to being more productive, to inspiring you to constantly improve yourself.

My mission is to get you to wake up to the unlimited potential within you and achieve what you’re truly capable of through my various self-development training programs.

On my facebook page, I openly and passionately share my life experiences and all of the very best concepts, strategies, tools, and resources that I continue to discover that have made a measurable difference to my life, and will do for you as well.

Keep your dream alive and never give up!

To learn about my amazing programs, please go to;

www.appstecamerica.com
www.successwithbobmwiti.com

Contact Me At;
success@successwithbobmwiti.com
info@appstecamerica.com
+1 813-573-5619 ext 402

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