A Kenyan man is facing deportation from Australia after he was summoned by the country's immigration authorities.
31-year-old John Mbuthia Mwangi says he received a phone call to appear at the Immigration offices for a visa interview. Immigration officers however arrested him on arrival at the offices.
Mwangi has been in custody at Yongah Hill detention center in Northam, Western Australia since his arrest on February 14th. On Saturday, he was informed that he would be deported to Kenya on Monday, March 25th.
Mwangi's wife, Semisha Mwangi on Monday begun lobbying the Australian government to allow him to stay.
Mwangi says when Immigration officers summoned him, they asked him to appear alone and ensure his family remained at home.
“It was a set-up,” he states as quoted by The Guardian. “He could have told me: you are coming in to be detained.”
Being a Noongar, Semisha and Mwangi got married in 2017 under the Noongar law in her family’s traditional land about 200km east of Perth. They later married under Australian law at a ceremony in Perth in December.
Semisha says Mwangi is a devoted stepfather to her 7-year-old son and co-carer with her to her sister’s three children under an Aboriginal kinship care arrangement.
“That ripped me apart seeing him in handcuffs like a criminal, escorted out the back like a murderer,” she says.
She says she is worried they might never see Mwangi again after they visited him in detention on Sunday.
“My son keeps asking me: when is dad coming home? I have almost given up, thinking that he is leaving today,” she adds.
Mwangi moved to Australia on a student visa in 2009 and was later transferred to a bridging visa. Since then, he has been trying to acquire permanent residency.
His last bridging visa expired on 7th February 2019, and he had already filed the paperwork to extend it.
“My wife is having a lot of difficulties trying to care for her sister’s children as well, but when there are two of us there it is much easier, I tried to explain that when I applied for ministerial intervention but they kept saying I didn’t meet the date range,” says Mwangi.
Authorities have informed Semisha that they do not accept their traditional cultural marriage under Noongar law, and believe the marriage in December was for immigration purposes. She has applied for an urgent ministerial intervention to allow her husband to stay in Australia.