Glenwood man dodges deportation " for now
Glenwood Springs Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” An immigration board has allowed a Glenwood Springs man who is a native of Zimbabwe to stay in the country a little while longer.
Akim Henry Gama will remain in the country until the Immigration Board of Appeals makes a decision regarding his deportation case.
“It’s an uphill battle but this is a change in his legal status,” said Gama’s attorney, Mark Barr, of Lichter and Associates in Denver. “It’s not a big win but it gives him legal protection here where before he could have been put on a plane and sent back any day.”
Gama was arrested Sept. 11 after missing an August 2006 court date regarding his application for asylum. He has been awaiting a decision in the case for nearly five months. He’s currently at an Aurora detention center, where he’s been since his arrest.
Barr said he intends on asking for Gama’s release.
“They have the authority to release detainees on parole and now that we have the stay request and proof that he will stay until this issue is resolved, he’s got a good chance at being approved for parole,” Barr said.
Gama worked at Rivers Restaurant in Glenwood Springs for about four years, until federal agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested him. Gama came to the country in 2000 to escape political turmoil in his native country, Zimbabwe.
His friend and former employer at Rivers, Anita Wan, said that she has had several letters written in support of Gama. Wan is going to send those letters to Barr, who will submit them to the board of appeals for review.
“We’ve received so many letters in support of Akim,” Wan said. “Any support from the community is helpful.”
The letters in support of Gama can aid in the parole decision according to Barr. And now they have an avenue for the community’s support. Wan is accepting letters of support at Rivers Restaurant in Glenwood Springs either by dropping them off in person or sent in the mail. She will then send them to Barr.
“We fully expect that the board of appeals will send the case back down to the court of immigration for another decision,” Barr said. “That is what this is all about, getting Akim the option to tell his story in front of the judge. We are saying that he deserves his day in court and he hasn’t gotten that yet.”