MCRC Passes Resolution Calling on State, Federal Officials to Permit Nigerian Immigrant Francis Anwana to Remain in Michigan Permanently

Contact: Vicki Levengood - LevengoodV@michigan.gov
Agency: Civil Rights

October 8, 2018

Grand Rapids, MI—In a unanimous decision, the Michigan Civil Rights Commission today passed a resolution calling on state and federal officials to “take all actions necessary” to permit Nigerian immigrant Francis Anwana to remain in Michigan permanently.

The vote took place at the Commission’s October 8th regular business meeting, held at the Crowne Plaza Grand Rapids – Airport, in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  The vote was seven in favor, no votes against, with one Commissioner absent.   

“Commissioners have been closely following the situation of Mr. Anwana, and the Department has been in contact with a number of organizations and individuals at the state and federal level to try to ascertain his well-being, whether or not his rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) were being protected and to advocate on behalf of his remaining in Michigan – the only home he has known for 34 of his 48 years,” said Agustin V. Arbulu, Director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights. “The Commission is relieved that the federal government will allow Mr. Anwana to remain in Michigan for another 12 months, and the Commission supports all efforts that will allow him to remain in Michigan permanently.”

The Commission resolution says, in part:

“. . . deporting Mr. Anwana to Nigeria would almost certainly have catastrophic consequences for him as his only means of communication is American Sign Language. Further, his cognitive challenges not only make acquiring a new language exceptionally problematic, they render him unable to fully understand the implications of being relocated, and incapable of providing the necessities for a new life in what to him is a foreign country . . .” 

“. . . the state department issued in early 2018 a travel advisory to Nigeria and departing Mr. Anwana to Nigeria will expose Mr. Anwana to serious physical danger such as assault, rape, kidnapping, terrorism and piracy.”

“It is therefore resolved that the Michigan Civil Rights Commission calls upon officials at every level of state and federal government to recognize the unique situation presented by Mr. Anwana’s deafness, his cognitive disability, and his lack of personal responsibility for the failure to properly renew his documentation, and take all actions necessary to permit Mr. Anwana to remain permanently in Michigan and live his life free from the dangers to his health, safety and well-being that would be presented by a forced relocation to a country he does not know and that the us department of state considers to present serious risk to his personal safety and security.”

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission was created by the Michigan Constitution to carry out constitutional and legal guarantees against discrimination. The Commission is charged with investigating alleged discrimination against any person because of religion, race, color or national origin, sex, age, marital status, height, weight, arrest record, and physical and mental disability. The Michigan Department of Civil Rights serves as the operational arm of the Commission.

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- MCRC Resolution In Support of Francis Anwana - PDF