Cary church fights potential deportation of legal immigrant

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NC Baptist churches are fighting the deportation of a congregation member who immigrated legally.

A Wake County community is pleading with immigration officials not to deport a 58-year-old Sunday school student they've known for years.

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Gilles Bikindou came to this country legally from the Republic of Congo for fear of political persecution, but his visa got pulled several years ago, and now ICE has him detained in Georgia - and may be preparing to deport him.

On Thursday, Baptist church leaders from across Wake County and beyond gathered at Greenwood Forest Baptist Church in prayer and a call to action, asking elected officials to put a stop to Bikindou's potential deportation.

The reverend at Greenwood, Lauren Efird, said the Apex factory worker was a regular in their congregation, and a law-abiding citizen striving to learn database software to better his life - all while fighting a life-threatening medical condition.

"Without the life-prolonging medical care he can only receive here, he will die," Efird said.



Bikindou's immigration attorney, Hans Christian Linnartz, said the Republic of Congo sponsored Bikindou's visa, then turned around and pulled it not long after he arrived in the US.

"He refused instructions from his government to testify falsely that the government was uninvolved in a massacre that occurred," Linnartz said.

The attorney said while Bikindou feared for his life in his home country, a judge denied his case for asylum, and that ever since Bikindou has reported to ICE agents under orders of supervision, without issue, for the past 10 years.

"Over and over, and over he proved to ICE that he was fully integrated into the community," Linnartz said, "that he was no threat to anybody, and that he was a productive member of the society."

According to Linnartz, while Bikindou initially came into the country legally, ICE was within its legal right to unexpectedly detain him.

"They have the authority to do this," Linnartz said, "whether it's right in the sight of God is a whole different matter."

The only way Bikindou won't be deported, according to Linnartz, is with an intervention by ICE, Congress, the Department of Justice or President Donald Trump.

"We ask, and we plead, and we beg for our government and our elected officials to release Mr. Bikindou back to his community," said the Rev. Nancy Petty of the Alliance of Baptists.

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