Fundraiser for Zimbabwean nets $8,000 |

Fundraiser for Zimbabwean nets $8,000

Pete FowlerGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Hundreds of people gathered Saturday in Glenwood Springs to support a man facing deportation to Zimbabwe.”It went fantastic,” said Anita Wan, general manager of Rivers restaurant, where Saturday’s fundraiser was held. “It was a really good time, and a lot of people came and were asking about (Akim Gama).”Wan estimated close to 200 people showed up, many with love and support for Gama.”It was full,” she said. “It was extremely impressive. We expected a good turnout but really didn’t even imagine the turnout that we had. It really proves that everyone really cares for him in Glenwood Springs.”She said a silent auction, donations and proceeds from sales raised a little more than $8,000. Gama is being held in an Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Aurora and is slated for deportation. ICE agents arrested him at the restaurant on Sept. 11.Gama, 29, missed an August 2006 court date while trying to gain asylum in the U.S. It’s unclear if he confused the date, accidentally showing up a week late or if he was somehow given the wrong date. He came from Zimbabwe in 2000 to escape political turmoil. His friendly personality and wit gained him many friends and supporters in Glenwood Springs.People who have spoken to him recently say he’s afraid of returning to Zimbabwe because of his political beliefs. Gama didn’t return a phone message Monday delivered through his attorney.”He’s a pretty humble person. He probably wouldn’t go out of his way to talk to the paper,” Wan said.”He’s one of the nicest people there is,” she said. “He got picked up because he was trying to do the right thing and trying to stay. I’m not badmouthing the immigration or judicial system, but it seems that the people who are trying to do the right things are being punished and the people who are here illegally and are not paying taxes aren’t touched. It just doesn’t seem fair.”Wan and others said Gama came from Africa legally on a work visa, worked, paid taxes and had no criminal history.The $8,000 will go toward legal fees, or to provide a fund for Gama if he is deported. Gama recently retained a new attorney with the help of Wan and others. The attorney is investigating and plans to file a motion to get a judge to give Gama another chance to present his case for asylum.Mark Barr, Gama’s attorney, said Gama is in a bad position but he does have a chance to avoid deportation.Contact Pete Fowler: 945-8515, ext. 16611 pfowler@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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