Glenwood man from Zimbabwe appears in immigration court
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
DENVER, Colorado ” Henry Akim Gama didn’t miss his immigration court date in Denver this time.
Gama, a Glenwood Springs resident, is originally from Zimbabwe. He appeared in court Wednesday for the limited purpose of having his attorney submit documents and receive a return court date that was expected to be over a year in the future.
“It will be literally, ‘Here are the documents, give us a date to come back for the asylum hearing,'” said Gama’s attorney, Mark Barr.
At the next court date Gama will finally get to present his case for asylum in the U.S.
Gama is an active member of the Movement for Democratic Change party that opposes Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe. He fears he would be persecuted for his political beliefs were he ever to return.
Gama came to the U.S. legally in 2000 with permission to stay until 2002. Supporters said he received bad legal advice initially and didn’t know he was supposed to file for asylum within a year of arriving and instead filed in 2004. He appeared at a few court hearings until accidentally missing an August 2006 court date.
A judge ordered him to be deported for missing the date and he was arrested. He spent almost eight months in a detention facility until getting released in May. A previous attorney, who some Gama supporters have accused of incompetence, filed a failed motion to re-open the case; then attorney Mark Barr’s subsequent motion to reopen Gama’s case was successful on April 15.
Barr, of the Lichter and Associates law firm in Denver, argued Gama would be persecuted by Mugabe’s regime for his political beliefs and that violence and human rights conditions had worsened in Zimbabwe since the country’s election last year.
Gama won a wide swath of community support. His friends, including his former employer at the Rivers Restaurant, Anita Wan, City Councilor Dave Sturges and other Rotarians raised more than $16,000 for his case. They say he was unfairly written off by the government and he’s exactly the type of person who should be allowed to stay in the U.S. ” even if he didn’t follow the rules perfectly.
Contact Pete Fowler: 384-9121
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