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March 1, 2018
You've most likely seen the updates and requests for action posted about Gilles Bikindou, a member of Greenwood Forest Baptist Church in Cary, NC who was detained by ICE in January. Unfortunately the news is not good.
Despite all the calls, emails, and other actions, we are very sorry to let you know that ICE rejected Gilles Bikindou's application for humanitarian parole. Gilles was deported to the Republic of Congo on Friday, February 23, 2018.
Please keep Gilles close in prayer. Please pray too for members of his church Greenwood Forest Baptist in Cary, NC who have been working tirelessly on his behalf. We will update you with news as we can.
See below for a press release from the church, written the week of February 12.
Cary, NC Church Member Scheduled for Deportation Despite Request for Humanitarian Parole Supported by Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC)
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has scheduled Cary church member Gilles Bikindou’s deportation to the Republic of Congo for this Friday, February 23 despite the fact that Mr. Bikindou has submitted a humanitarian parole application supported by Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC). Mr. Bikindou’s attorney has also filed to re-open his political asylum case in light of new evidence of political persecution should he be deported. ICE has not responded to either request but is proceeding with his deportation.
Gilles Bikindou has been a member of Greenwood Forest Baptist Church (GFBC) since 2006 and has been in the United States even longer than that. He fled political persecution in the Republic of Congo because he witnessed state-sponsored violence. He came here legally on an educational visa, but the funding for his education was revoked by the Congolese government when he refused to perjure himself about what he witnessed. Mr. Bikindou failed to obtain political asylum status in the United States, likely because of inadequate representation.
After being denied asylum, Mr. Bikindou has been under an order of supervision with work authorization from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). That means Mr. Bikindou has lived and worked here legally for many years. On January 9, 2018 Mr. Bikindou reported as requested for a regular ICE check-in, and to submit an application for a stay of removal. Mr. Bikindou was separated from the GFBC minister accompanying him at that check in. He was trapped and detained, ostensibly for an interview with the Republic of Congo, according to ICE official David Kunde.
That interview never took place, but Mr. Bikindou has remained in ICE custody since January 9. ICE rejected his application for a stay of removal to prevent his deportation the same afternoon it was submitted. Mr. Bikindou has multiple life-threatening medical conditions that were not treated adequately while in ICE custody. While at Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia, Mr. Bikindou was hospitalized several times because of an inadequate medical regimen and poor living conditions in the private prison camp. Mr. Bikindou was recently moved to the Atlanta City Detention Center, for what ICE called “operational necessity.” Mr. Bikindou, we fear, came close to dying in Stewart Detention Center.
Even after Senator Tillis made a plea for Mr. Bikindou’s stay of removal to be reconsidered, ICE has remained unmoved. Mr. Bikindou and his representation have also filed for humanitarian parole in an effort to get Mr. Bikindou released so he can receive adequate medical attention while his asylum case is being reconsidered. ICE has not acknowledged either request and has scheduled Mr. Bikindou for deportation this Friday, February 23...
We believe that Mr. Bikindou will die if deported. To substantiate that fear, we point to the fact that he has already almost died in immigration detention. He should be released to his community of faith where he has been a law-abiding resident and productive member of society, and where his medical conditions were being managed properly. Mr. Bikindou is essential to our community and a blessing to the United States of America.