Fifty-five-year-old Cecilia Ojoawo has been hoping to acquire a green card for years. Ojoawo moved to the United States from Nigeria over 30 years ago, but she may have to return to her birth country soon, as her quest for U.S. citizenship has had several issues along the way. According to The Star-Ledger, despite the fact that Ojoawo won an appeal that granted her immunity for deportation to her native country, she was recently told that an immigration officer invoked the decision, which makes the possibility of her deportation highly likely.
Ojoawo is blind and has spent the vast majority of the last several months traveling between different federal offices since she won her appeal requesting more information as to when she would receive her green card. However, once she heard that the 2006 decision for her appeal had been invoked, she burst into tears.
“It just meant everything that had happened for years, all the waiting, all the paperwork, all the appointments – they amounted to nothing and it would all have to begin all over again,” she told the source. “I never cry, but I just couldn’t stop myself.”
Since the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, approximately 8 to 9 million people have migrated to the United States from Africa. According to 2010 U.S. Census data, 253,000 Nigerian immigrants are currently living in the United States.
In her time since arriving in the United States, Ojoawo has been an upstanding resident and advocate for the blind. Ojoawo has a master’s level education and has completed all of the coursework for her doctorate at Boston University. She has spent many years volunteering for the blind community and working as a teacher and counselor, an occupation she continued to thrive in before losing her legal immigration status in 2006.
Unable to file for unemployment, Ojoawo is currently penniless and on the verge of homelessness after spending her savings on appeals. Although she is trying to remain hopeful, she is finding it harder each day, but finds solace in the community that she has been a part of for so long.
“Cecilia has done so much so much for so many,” her friend Carolyn Ahrens told the source. “We should be doing something for her now.”