The Augsburg professor facing deportation after 26 years in the U.S. has been given an extra month in the country.
Mzenga Wanyama, 60, was ordered to attend a Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) hearing on Friday and told to prepare to leave the country.
But when he got there, he was told to report back in a month – a stay of execution he hopes to use to figure out how he can remain in the U.S.
He arrived in the country from Kenya on a non-immigrant visa to study in 1992. When it expired in 2005 he applied for asylum, but was repeatedly rejected.
The news that the father of three wouldn't be immediately deported came as a relief to supporters who rallied at the ICE offices in St. Paul on Friday, as well as his employers at Augsburg University, where he's a tenured associate professor of English.
"We are relieved for the moment that Dr. Mzenga Wanyama has additional time to pursue options to stay in the United States long term," Augsburg President Paul Pribbenow said in a statement.
"We support him and intend to vigorously work toward an immigration status that will allow him to stay. Augsburg’s mission embraces people from a diversity of life experiences, and Dr. Wanyama has been a respected friend, teacher, and peer.
"Dr. Wanyama’s scholarship in postcolonial theory and literatures and in African-American literary history plays a critical role in Augsburg’s undergraduate curriculum. His expertise is unique and would certainly be very difficult to replace."
ICE told the Star Tribune that Wanyama had twice defied orders to leave the country after his asylum bids failed, and intends to ensure he complies with the deportation order issued in 2012.