Former Glenwood resident Akim Gama wins step in right direction |

Former Glenwood resident Akim Gama wins step in right direction

John GardnerPost Independent StaffGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS An emergency stay of removal motion filed on behalf of Akim Henry Gama was approved Thursday by the Immigration board of appeals.This development ensures that Gama will remain in the country until the board of appeals makes a decision regarding his deportation case.Its an uphill battle but this is a change in his legal status, said Gamas attorney, Mark Barr, of Lichter and Associates in Denver. Its 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.The stay of removal request was filed in December and Barr mentioned that these requests are not often granted on frivolous appeals and is an indication of a strong appeal in Gamas case.Gama was arrested Sept. 11, 2007, 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. Barr said he intends on submitting a parole request and is hopeful that the court of appeals will grant one.Hes currently at an Aurora detention center, where hes been since his arrest.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, hes got a good chance at being approved for parole, Barr said.However, that decision could take a few weeks according to Barr.Gama worked at Rivers Restaurant in Glenwood Springs for about four years, until federal agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) 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.Weve 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 communitys 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.There is still the main issue of Gama ultimately being deported, but this recent decision is a step in the right direction, according 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 hasnt gotten that yet.Contact John Gardner: 384-9114jgardner@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO

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