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

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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Business

VIDEOS: Boston, Massachusetts residents are all smiles courtesy of Optiven

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Optiven Group just hosted its Boston customers for sumptuous dinner and a one-on-one meeting. What’s more? Courtesy of this event, several Bostonians are now owners of land that is 100% transformed, meaning they are now proud owners of land that has all facilities including children park, a jogging track, water, trees and secure gated communities.

See more: https://www.optiven.co.ke/diaspora/usa2019

These happy clients can now embark on a journey of building homes and for those who are already building, they will enjoy the new innovative project, where Optiven through its sister company PMC Estates (www.pmcestates.co.ke) will get all our clients a good tenant, maintain their houses and collect and deposit Money in their accounts or wire the rent to their USA accounts.

A number of customers in the USA & Europe are already benefiting courtesy of this new service with no risk of being shortchanged by a dishonest relative.

The Optiven team, which is led by George Muteti and Steve Mbugua, who are both Senior Managers, are available for online support as they celebrate those they presented the ownership documents at Boston. They were in Virginia, Maryland Missouri and now in Boston, Massachusetts as they head to Seattle in Washington State later this week.

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

We at Optiven celebrate all those customers whose titles were delivered to their doorstep and we commit to also deliver to those others who are still paying for their properties on installments. These installments have enabled many Kenyans in diaspora to own properties with Optiven Group. Most of who have purchase Victory Gardens and are very happy.
Youtube: https://youtu.be/gdu935WbGcI

Others customers have bought Garden of Joy, a very strategic property that is ready for settlement. Youtube: https://youtu.be/X97lzyZ3M8Y

Still, other customers have bought Nyeri project (Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXqUvYSSZ9s)

While others have bought Shekinah Gardens: https://www.optiven.co.ke/properties/shekinahgardens

Thika Royal palms https://www.thikaroyalpalms.com/ and Amani Ridge-The place of Peace

https://www.optiven.co.ke/component/allvideoshare/video/amaniridgeplaceofpeacekiambu?Itemid=665

We congratulate the hundreds of diaspora clients who have bought and joined our 10, 000 plus customers, whom we have empowered over the last 20 years. You are now part of the great Optiven movement.

We now encourage you to join the movement as we push our vision to Economically and Socially empowering and transforming the world.

Call us now:
540 214 4376

443 734 2465

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Diaspora

Kenyan man deported from the US on arrival at the airport, seeks help to reunite with his Patients

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An online petition to help a Doctor of Kenyan descent who was deported from the United States two weeks ago has been launched.

According to the petition seen by ksnmedia.com,  Dr. Alexander Ondari  was returning to the US to complete his last year as a resident physician at the University of Texas Medical Branch on July 6th, when he was denied entry.

He is now seeking the intervention of the US Embassy in Nairobi. Below is the Petition as prepared by one Georgia Colleluori:

 

On July the 6th, Dr. Alexander Ondari was returning to USA to complete his last year as a resident physician at University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. However, he was barred from entering, as the immigration officer at the airport (Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport) did not honor the valid J1 Visa that he had. Unfortunately, he was deported back to Kenya where he is right now. Currently, all depends on the USA Embassy in Kenya to grant him a new J1 Visa. 

Dr Ondari’s constant efforts as a physician, together with his charitable character, is critical to the well-being of the communities he lives and serves in. Dr Ondari’s objective is to bring value to the US, an aim that has been already accomplished during the last 17 years as a non-immigrant visa holder. It’s is thus a honor to support his efforts to obtain a J1 visa so that he can serve his patients and continue to improve the health of America.

You can sign the Petition by clicking here – change.org/p/us-embassy-in-nairobi

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

WATCH LIVE: Francis Muchene’s Memorial Service in Atlanta as burial set for Sat July 27

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Send off plans for Baba Chege (Francis Muchene Chege) are in full gear.
The memorial service is tomorrow Saturday July 20th at 4pm at KACC
771 Elberta Dr,
Marietta, GA. 30066.
The final sendoff is Saturday July 27 at Kennesaw Memorial Park (Atlanta’s Lang’ata) Mariettta , Georgia.

We covet all your prayers.
Asanteni for all the support shown during this difficult time. I am standing on the promises of God. “He shall neither leave us nor forsake us.”
It is well with our souls.

Mr Muchene, who passed away on Monday July 8th after a short illness, was the husband to Christine Muchene (Madam President), Father to Joseph Chege, Dr. Paul Kiarie, Evans Ngamau and Monica Okall.
—————————————

For those asking where to send their donations, please see below:
CashApp # – 678-255-7904
Bank Account – Wells Fargo
A/C # 8716838357
Bank Address – 4309 Claires Brook Lane
Acworth Ga. 30101
Account Name – Francis Muchene Chege Memorial Fund

For more information, please contact:
Elder Kanyari Muthoga – 404-353-6317
Njeri Mungai – 404-435-6534
Pastor Karumba Kiroko – 678-656-8446

 

 

 

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