DEPORTATION OF ALBANY CHEF ON HOLD FOR AT LEAST THREE WEEKS
**Original article from Times Union, by Mallory Moench. View the original report here.
New York, NY - Capital City Rescue Mission chef Kinimo Ngoran won't be deported for at least three weeks.
A federal judge adjourned his case but Ngoran will remain in detention near Buffalo until the matter is decided.
On Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Charles J. Siragusa extended the emergency stay on Ngoran's deportation order, issued Friday, until a court hearing on Feb. 25 where his legal counsel will argue for his release as he waits to get a green card through marriage, Albany Law School professor Sarah Rogerson confirmed.
"The stay remains in place. The government can't deport him," said Rogerson, who is heading up Ngoran's legal team.
A petition to get immigration status through his American wife of two years, Lisa Pepper-Ngoran, was†approved†Thursday. At the end of last week, Ngoran's legal counsel filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Attorney General in federal court in Rochester, arguing his detention is unlawful because he still has a pending application with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services that could grant him legal status. With the approved visa petition, Ngoran now has to wait to apply for a green card.
"We're making the argument that they're holding him unlawfully," Rogerson said.
Ngoran entered the country illegally more than a decade ago, saying he was fleeing violence and religious persecution in the Ivory Coast. Since then, he's been trying to get legal status.
ICE spokesman Khalid Walls said Ngoran was ordered removed from the U.S. by a federal immigration judge in 2004. Courts denied his subsequent appeals.
While Ngoran's attorney at the time worked on his appeal, the Department of Homeland Security issued him a temporary stay of deportation, forbidding his immediate removal. Ngoran had been regularly reporting to ICE under an order of supervision issued in 2012 because the agency was previously unable to obtain a travel document from his home country, Walls said.
City Mission Executive Director Perry Jones said Ngoran came to the mission in 2011 homeless and seeking shelter, but the beloved chef quickly earned his keep first volunteering in the kitchen and then becoming a mainstay employee.
Jones mentored and accompanied Ngoran to his regular ICE visits, but on Jan. 23 Jones returned to the mission without Ngoran.
The Ivory Coast native had been arrested and detained overnight in the Albany County jail before being sent to the Batavia Federal Detention Center near Buffalo.
The case received widespread attention after Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple, whose jail houses detained migrants, decried the decision by ICE to detain Ngoran after years of allowing him to be free. Ngoran's family, legal counsel and elected officials rallied at the Capital City Rescue Mission on Friday to advocate for his release.