Asylum seeker who has been in Canada for 21 years obtained permission to stay

After 21 years in immigration limbo, Samuel Ndesanjo Nyaga is finally free to live the rest of his years in Canada.

The 74-year-old failed refugee and mainstay of Toronto’s Kenyan community received permission to stay after the Star first reported last week that he was being deported on January 4.

“It means a lot because it’s what I know,” Nyaga said, her joy spilling over the phone.

“Toronto I can walk with my eyes closed. I am the GPS of this city … This is my home ”.

Nyaga came to Canada in 2000 seeking political asylum after he said he was threatened and persecuted by the Kenyan government for advocating for access to water and electricity for the rural poor as a member of the opposition Democratic Party, al who had joined early. 1990s

When Nyaga joined the party in the early 1990s, after decades of work at Barclays Bank, Kenya was on the verge of becoming a multi-party state.

In Canada, it took three years for Nyaga’s refugee case to be heard and was ultimately denied because he could not provide a Democratic Party membership card. After another seven years juggling the system, Canadian border agents determined that it would be safe for Nyaga to return to Kenya. Since then, for more than a decade, he has been reporting to the border agency office on Airport Road every week, waiting for the day when he would be forced to leave.

Last month, more than 21 years after Nyaga first landed in Canada, he was told that he would be deported on January 4.

“I have nothing left in Kenya,” Nyaga recently told the Star’s Nicholas Keung.

Last month, Nyaga’s lawyer requested that he stay on humanitarian grounds, arguing that his client was established in Canada and would face considerable difficulties if transferred to Kenya.

“We were very, very hopeful that the (humane and compassionate request) would be honored and that someone in higher places would see his case,” said Ariel Hollander of Lewis & Associates’ immigration and refugee law office.

Since it was first reported on Star, Nyaga’s story has been covered by other print and television outlets.

On Thursday, Hollander was notified that Nyaga’s humane and compassionate request for permanent residence had been approved in principle by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

“Effectively, it means that he will not be removed,” Hollander said.

Nyaga was preparing to leave the country on Thursday when he was told he had to report to the border office for his final interview, which had been advanced since January 3.

“I was extremely nervous,” he said. “I suspected they might arrest me.”

Now, you are on your way to becoming a permanent resident.

“My conscience now tells me that I am calm and now I am starting a new life,” he said.

Nyaga, who worked as a security guard and janitor at a condo building on Marine Parade Drive until his work permit expired in 2016, is a regular at the Kenyan church near Davenport and Old Weston roads, where he goes every Sunday to install chairs. greet the parishioners and clean up. He volunteers in the kitchen and serves snacks and coffee to the homeless.

He’s eager to get back to his old job, where he says, “There’s a chair waiting for me.”

Members of the Kenyan community in Toronto began raising money in October to hire a lawyer for Nyaga and launched a online petition urging the border agency to stop his deportation, which has since obtained more than 4,500 signatures.

“You have to remember that Samuel’s story was unique,” Hollander said. His humanitarian application was approved in about a month, but he says many applicants are not so lucky and are deported before receiving a response.

Nyaga sends his “sincerest thanks” to all who have stepped in and helped him. He said he plans to buy a copy of the Star newspaper in which this article appears to mail to his brother in Kenya.

“I love Toronto,” he said. “It is our city.”

With files from Nicholas Keung

Lex Harvey is a Toronto-based newsletter producer for The Star and author of the First Up newsletter. Follow her on Twitter: @lexharvs

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