MINNEAPOLIS – A professor at Augsburg University in Minnesota was told Friday to report back to immigration authorities next month and begin making plans for his deportation to Kenya.
Mzenga Wanyama was asked to meet with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials on Friday to discuss a "plan for removal." His supporters were concerned that he'd be deported immediately.
After the meeting, Wanyama told about 100 people gathered outside ICE headquarter that he was told to report back next month, Minnesota Public Radio News reports.
"They say make concrete plans for departure, but that gives my attorneys time to explore possibilities," he said. "So it's not really final."
Wanyama moved to the U.S. from Kenya in 1992 on a student visa. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota and now teaches English, literature and African American history at Augsburg University as an associate professor.
Wanyama was denied asylum after his visa expired, but accepted a deal that required him to report to ICE on a regular basis. He's been checking in with the agency since 2012. Wanyama was originally set to next meet with officials in May, but he then received a letter informing him of Friday's meeting.
In a statement, Augsburg University President Paul Pribbenow said colleagues are relieved Wanyama can continue to teach for now and has time to pursue legal options. He said the school plans to help him work toward an immigration status that will allow him to stay in the U.S.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said in a statement that Wanyama is a pillar in the community and the city and region are better for his work.
"No President, no federal agency will deport Dr. Wanyama without a fight from me, from our partners in the state and federal delegations, and from the thousands of people in Minneapolis who share our values," Frey said.
ICE officials say the agency continues to focus enforcement on people who pose a threat to national security and public safety, but it doesn't exempt those who violate immigration laws.
Michael Lansing, an associate professor of history at Augsburg, said Wanyama is an important part of the community.
"Our students really count on him and his classes," Lansing said. "He teaches classes in Postcolonial theory and in African American literature and that particular specialty is crucial for our students to understand the broader world."
Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mprnews.org