ICE targets Minnesota professor


A tenured professor at Augsburg University in Minneapolis and his wife have been ordered to show up at ICE headquarters today, on short notice and out of the sequence of their usual, scheduled check-ins. Mzenga Aggrey Wanyama, age 60, has lived in the United States since 1992. After his bid for asylum was rejected, he was a low priority for deportation, and assigned check-in dates every few months. Now deportation looms for Wanyama and his wife, Mary. Two of their three children have DACA status and the third is a U.S. citizen.

Supporters will meet at ICE headquarters in Bloomington at noon today (Friday, March 9). Augsburg president Paul Pribbenow said,  “Dr. Wanyama is a role model for the professional aspirations and accomplishments of future leaders in our city and country. We strongly stand behind him and believe he should be able to stay in the United States.”

See detailed coverage in news articles linked below. In other news: a critic of refugee programs has been named head of the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, and lawyers detail additional red tape and administrative burdens placed on immigrants and employers, outside of the normal regulatory rule-making process.

Augsburg professor faces deportation years after failed asylum bid (Pioneer Press, 3/8/18)

Kenya native Mzenga Wanyama, an associate professor of English, came to the United States in 1992 as a J-1 nonimmigrant exchange visitor, court records show. His wife and two children followed in 1995.

“When his visa expired in 2005, Wanyama applied for asylum. He said he feared government persecution after writing three newspaper articles supporting the former Kenyan president’s political opponent.”

Ahead of ICE meeting, Augsburg professor braces for possible deportation (Star Tribune, 3/8/18)

“Wanyama said he is resigned to deportation, should it come to that. “Well, what can I do? … If they want me to buy my own ticket, I will do that.”

“Combellick-Bidney said Wanyama’s case had been treated as a low priority by ICE, in part because he is a full-time professor at Augsburg teaching writing and literature, and he has no criminal record.”

ICE’s strategy of targeted disappearances ensnares Augsburg University professor (Workday Minnesota, 3/7/18)

ICE has required Wanyama, a native of Kenya, to comply with stringent guidelines including regular visits to the ICE headquarters in St. Paul every one to three months. Wanyama has not missed a single visit. But this most recent demand comes outside of that schedule and signals a shift in priority of his case, putting him at risk for detention and deportation. Wanyama’s case was previously deemed a low priority by ICE, in part because he is a full-time professor and has no criminal record.”

Augsburg professor faces possible deportation (MPR, 3/8/18)

“I have a job here, I’m working, I’m almost due to retire,” he said. “Being sent away to some country I have not been to in almost a quarter century doesn’t make any sense. But the ball is in their court. They could insist that I leave.”

“An immigration judge denied Wanyama asylum after his visa expired. He appealed, but was denied again. Instead, he became part of a large group of asylum seekers nationwide who took a deal that required them to report to Immigration and Customs Enforcement on a regular basis. Wanyama has been checking in with ICE since 2012.

“Last month, Wanyama said ICE told him to come back in May, but then the professor suddenly received a letter asking him to show up March 9.”

In other news

Refugee skeptic lands top State Department refugee job (Politico, 3/8/18) Morale in the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration was already at a low ebb, and this appointment won’t help.

“My experience is that he strongly believes that fewer refugees should admitted into the United States and that international migration is something to be stopped, not managed,” the former U.S. official said, adding that Veprek’s views about refugees and migrants were impassioned to the point of seeming “vindictive.”

“Veprek’s appointment as a deputy assistant secretary is unusual given his relatively low Foreign Service rank, the former and current State officials said, and raises questions about his qualifications. Such a position typically does not require Senate confirmation.” 

‘I am a pawn’: Trump’s immigration fight with California squeezes those caught in the middle (New York Times, 3/8/18) ICE enforcement hits business owners hard in California, with some losing customers and some losing employees.

“Reyna Guardado, the owner of El Guanaquito Pupuseria, a restaurant in Riverside County, said that all of her workers are family members with green cards or citizenship. But the moment a pair of agents, donning flak jackets emblazoned with “ICE,” set foot there to serve her an I-9 audit notice, her patrons dispersed. “Everybody knows ICE was here,” she said.

Attorneys: Trump team wraps immigrants and their lawyers in red tape (Forbes, 3/8/18)

In fact, the Trump administration appears to have made a conscious decision to make it markedly more difficult for U.S. employers to employ a foreign national.  Most troubling, is that the administration is imposing new requirements and changing the rules of the game without providing employers or the public prior notice or the opportunity to comment on these changes. Instead, it is effectuating draconian changes by issuing new policy memos instead of revising or withdrawing existing regulations or issuing new regulations that would require public input….

For example, USCIS surreptitiously imposed new requirements into the H-1B program that caused massive increases in the number of cases denied or subjected to a Request for Evidence. For employers, this not only means increased time, but more importantly, it results in a loss of predictability, which is harmful to any business. Employers are often in the dark about whether a case that would have been approved a year ago will be approved today. That’s no way to run either a business or a government.”


About Mary Turck

News Day, written by Mary Turck, analyzes, summarizes, links to, and comments on reports from news media around the world, with particular attention to immigration, education, and journalism. Fragments, also written by Mary Turck, has fiction, poetry and some creative non-fiction. Mary Turck edited TC Daily Planet,, from 2007-2014, and edited the award-winning Connection to the Americas and AMERICAS.ORG, in its pre-2008 version. She is also a recovering attorney and the author of many books for young people (and a few for adults), mostly focusing on historical and social issues.
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