MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — An Augsburg University English professor has been given 90 days to leave the country. Immigration and Customs Enforcement gave him the order Thursday afternoon in St. Paul.
The professor and his wife came to the U.S. from Kenya on a student Visa more than 25 years ago. She works as a nurse in St. Paul and they have three kids. They were hoping to get an extension, but ICE told them they’re facing deportation due to a court order.
The professor told our Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield that he wouldn’t even fight the order if it weren’t for the outpouring of support.
Dr. Mzenga Wanyama took time to hug and shake hands with those who showed up at the ICE building in St. Paul including the mayor of Minneapolis, Jacob Frey.
“He’s not just a resident, he’s not just a community member, he’s a member of our family and the City of Minneapolis and he’s not going anywhere,” Frey said.
He was uncertain about the meeting with ICE in front of him but he was sure of who was behind him, around 70 people including student Eve Taft, who held a sign of support.
“I believe that he’s part of our Augsburg family and that he should be here to stay,” Taft said.
“For someone who not only looked like me but had an entire history of people who did look like me saying things that were important contributions to the world, it really meant a lot so he’s a really special person to me,” Dr. Wanyama’s former student Tiana Bellamy said.
“This is about the whole immigrant community. This isn’t just about being Kenyan or anything. We are talking about a man who contributes very widely in this society. He’s involved in the community, he’s a professor, he’s mentored me, he contributes to our Kenyan community, he’s a father figure to many of us, someone like me who I don’t have parents here,” fellow Kenya native Renson Anjere of Burnsville said.
And together they cheered as he walked out of his meeting hoping against the news they were about to hear. Dr. Wanyama walked out of the building telling the crowd, “We’ve been told in there that we have three months to depart.”
His attorney says his chances to stay are slim. No matter what happens, this professor hopes he’s part of a teaching moment.
“I really don’t want to think about things that people are doing to me. I’d rather think about things people are doing for me,” he said.
The governor also weighed in, sending a letter to ICE. Click here to view the letter.