Progress in the cases of two threatened immigrants

Man in sanctuary has date in federal court; Disabled man’s hope lies in private bill

Two men challenging their deportations discovered paths out from under their orders of removal late last week. Ded Rranxburgaj, the Albanian immigrant who has taken sanctuary in a Detroit church, will have a hearing in federal court November 13th, 2018. Francis Anwana, who came from Nigeria for help with his hearing and cognitive disabilities, was told at a Friday meeting with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that his stay of removal has been accepted and ICE would be reviewing the stay over the next 30 days. Advocates hope this will be enough time to advance a private bill by Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI) that would make Anwana a Lawful Permanent Resident.

Rranxburgaj has taken sanctuary all year in an apartment in the Central United Methodist church with his wife, Flora, and two sons, Eric and Lorenc. Flora suffers from multiple sclerosis. Lorenc is protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and Eric was born in America. Meanwhile, Ded has been labeled by ICE as a fugitive for refusing to abandon his family. His Attorney, George Mann said in the complaint he filed that this designation is given as a justification for their refusal to adjudicate Ded’s request for a renewal of his deferred action on humanitarian grounds. “Since we claim that Ded is not a ‘fugitive,’ as per legal precedents,” said Mann, “their refusal to adjudicate our request for a renewal of the deferred action is unjustified.” Mann continues to negotiate with ICE and hopes an agreement can be reached before the court date. The team of supporters who have rallied around the Rranxburgaj family are encouraging people to attend the hearing before Judge Denise Hood that will be open to the public and media.

About the same time Rranxburgaj learned of his court date, immigrant rights advocates were rallied outside ICE Detroit field office on behalf of two African immigrants facing deportation. They carried signs with the hashtag #KeepFrancisHere hoping Anwana could stay with loved ones who help him through the challenges of his profound deafness and cognitive disabilities. “Family is so much more than sharing a last name… Family is about taking care of the most vulnerable because we love them,” said Tania Morris, a staff attorney with Michigan Immigrant Rights Center (MIRC) “When (Francis) came here, he thrived. He flourished. And here, he made a family. Even though he has his family in Nigeria, he’s made a family here.”

The next day, ICE decided to accept the request for a stay of removal. ICE plans on having a response to the request within the next month, allowing Anwana to stay during that time. MIRC attorneys are also looking to legislative action for a solution. HR 6829 is a private bill sponsored by Flint Representative Kildee that would cut through the removal process and offer Anwana Lawful Permanent Residency and thus a pathway to citizenship.


The other person the rally sought to help was Banny “Papa” Doumbia, a Detroit man from the Ivory Coast who has raised four American born children since he came here over 30 years ago. Although an impromptu sit in at Detroit Metro airport was able to stop his removal, he is still being held in Chippewa County jail, in Sault Ste. Marie, 5 hours from his family and attorneys. “The African immigrant community has been traumatized by this administration in unprecedented numbers…” said his daughter, Nabinto at the rally. “…a lot of times we forget black immigrants. We either think of the conversation of ‘Black lives matter’ or ‘Separating families’ and we don’t realize that there’s an entire group of people who exist right between those two things.”