After 12 years, Kenyan Steve Onyango has been told he’s no longer welcome in Canada, after his wife, and sponsor, died three years ago.
Onyango owns a home in Windsor and works as a parking enforcement officer, yet he may have to leave the life he’s built if government officials get their way.
When his wife Michelle passed away in 2008, his immigration claim died too. This month, the government sent him a letter informing him that his application for permanent residence had been denied because his sponsor was no longer living.
“Losing my wife was quite a loss to me,” said Onyango. “I didn’t realize that immigration would actually take that — me losing my wife — an an excuse to refuse or to deny my application for permanent residency. I was thinking that they would be more compassionate than that.”
Onyango volunteers his time with Habitat for Humanity, the Special Olympics, and as headmaster at the Masonic Lodge.
Friends plan to petition government
When his Canadian friends learned about his situation, they were shocked and decided to do something to try to help.
“I almost fell over,” said Thomas Seal. “I don’t think it’s our government — I don’t think they understand how because of a technicality, that he could just be suddenly up for export.”
Seal wrote a letter on his friend’s behalf to Member of Parliament Jeff Watson, but was told the deportation stands. He has started a petition in hopes the government would reconsider the case on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.
Onyango is now left waiting for the day he hopes never comes.
“They say I’m subject to removal,” he said. “So to my understanding, that means at any time the border services will get in touch and ask me to leave the country, which is quite scary.”
Onyango said he’s thankful for every day he has in the community he calls home.
“I do love to give back to the community,” he said. “And I’m not a freeloader, so I believe I’m an asset to the Canadian community.”