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Jacksonville man raises his albinism in deportation defense

A 36-year-old Nigerian man came to the United States with his family when he was the age of ten. The man's family left Nigeria because of their skin color. The 36-year-old has lived in this country since he was 10-years-old; he is married to a United States citizen and has three children who are all American citizens. The family makes their home in Jacksonville, Florida.

In 2003, the man was arrested on a battery charge. That charge was dropped but an immigration case was opened. The man faced removal proceedings in immigration court. He struggled to defend himself for a number of years in efforts to settle the immigration case. More recently, the man raised a deportation defense in the matter, arguing that his albinism would place him in immediate danger if he were deported to Nigeria.

In parts of sub-Saharan Africa, superstitions and witchcraft are common and people with albinism are believed to possess special powers. Some people in the region attempt to profit from the superstitions and witchcraft. The opportunists seek out albinos to cut off body parts and sell them for thousands of dollars per limb.

It is the region where the 36-year-old Jacksonville man spent the first ten tears of his life. Before emigrating to the U.S., his family hid from opportunists in rural towns. Because of the potential for persecution of people with albinism, the man defended against deportation based upon the danger he would face in Nigeria.

Experts testified in immigration court in Orlando. They told the immigration judge that the 36-year-old would be an easy target, having no family to serve as a support system in Nigeria. In February, the immigration judge agreed with the man's defense, finding that the 36-year-old would be at risk if he were sent back to Nigeria. The judge ordered that the man's deportation be withheld.

Now the man will have to apply for permanent residency status in the U.S. The judge's withholding of the deportation will give the 36-year-old father of three some time to assess his options in applying for permanent residency.

Source: The Florida Times-Union, "Jacksonville man fights deportation with his albinism as a defense," Kate Howard 6 Apr 2011

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