Detained Student Tope Awe – A small victory

Tope Awe, a third-year graduate student in the UW School of Pharmacy,was arrested last week and risks deportation to Nigeria.

What crime did she commit? She stayed in the United States with her family since she was three and grew up American.

This is the background story of her family, reported in the Badger Herald. While studying in the United States legally and 


Upon graduating from UW, Sam Awe discovered he had a kidney disease and has since been to the U.S. several times after his body started rejecting his kidney, he said. The Awe family has been in the country since 1989 on a B1-B2 Visa, which he said has allowed them to stay in the country for as long as his treatment lasts.

“My wife could not leave [the children] behind, so they came with my wife to give me moral and psychological support,” Sam Awe said. “That was the recommendation of my doctor.”

Despite his doctors advising him not to leave the country due to his medical condition, the 68-year-old man said immigration officials visited his residence in November 2007 and said he could “seek treatment somewhere else.”

“My wife and myself have been contributing to the development of this community. I work as a licensed special education teacher and so does my wife,” Sam Awe said. “We’ve been paying our taxes now since 1996 and we have property. We register cars; we pay everything we owe.”

Tope Awe is as American as any American citizen kid born and brought up here. She is a student leader and an avid contributor to the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Whether being the co-chair of the African Student Association 2006-2007 school year, the co-president Multicultural Affairs Program in Pharmacy 2006-2007, or working for the Diversity Program in University Housing as the Multicultural Liaison she has been avid and insightful resource on this campus.

Even if you believe that Tope should be sent to Nigeria–a country that she does not know and does not consider her home–she should not be in jail or detention because she has commited no crime. Tope should be allowed to at least finish her education.

Edit – This blog post has been updated to add that Tope is no longer in detention. The battle is not over because this is just a temporary resolution. However, this demonstrates that gathering petitions and protesting ICE detentions of students does make a difference when it comes to some immigration judges so to all those that are fighting deportation, keep up the fight and let us know how to assist in your cause.

You can find out more about the movement to support Tope Awe from the facebook group here 

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.