Gilles Bikindou, a Cary church member and native of the Republic of Congo, is slated to be deported on Friday, the Greenwood Forest Baptist Church announced this afternoon. According to the church, Bikindou has a life-threatening illness, and it believes he will die if he is deported back to the Congo.
Bikindou has been a member of the church since 2006. He came to the U.S. two years before that on an education visa sponsored by the Congolese government, according to his attorney, but the funding for the visa was withdrawn after he refused to testify for the government in a trial about state-sponsored violence. Bikindou then sought political asylum, but his request was denied by an immigration judge.
Bikindou was detained last month during a routine check-in with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and later sent to Georgia's Stewart Detention Center. There, his allies say, he was hospitalized multiple times (they say he has a life-threatening medical condition but did not provide details). Bikindou has since been moved to a different detention facility. "We fear [he] came close to dying in the Stewart Detention Center," the church wrote in a Facebook post.
Bikindou's attorney re-filed his asylum case, and his supporters are lobbying ICE to grant him humanitarian parole so that he can seek medical attention while his asylum case is being processed. According to the church, ICE has not acknowledged either request and has set Bikindou's deportation for this Friday, February 23.
"If nothing changes, he will be deported to his death. We believe that Mr. Bikindou is in life-threatening danger both from political reprisal and the lack of adequate medical treatment in the Republic of Congo," the church wrote on Facebook.
ICE did not respond to a request for comment.
An earlier version of this post confused the Republic of Congo with the Democratic Republic of Congo. We regret the error.