Fear gay Senegalese artist could be killed if deported - My29 WFTC Minneapolis-St. Paul

Fear gay Senegalese artist could be killed if deported

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A demonstrator holds a "Free Michel" sign at a rally Monday. A demonstrator holds a "Free Michel" sign at a rally Monday.
DETROIT (WJBK) -

There was a demonstration outside the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement building in Detroit on Monday showing support for Michel Mendy, an immigrant from Senegal facing deportation because of an error in paperwork.

"He gave two different addressed at the same time.  His lawyer didn't catch it.  The court didn't catch it and say, hey, wait a minute, you only can have one address.  So on a technicality, they're trying to deport him now," said Elder Leslie Matthews, Mendy's mentor.

Mendy is an artist and has been working and living in the U.S. since 1998.  He has never been in trouble with the law.

"It's heart-wrenching because, like I said, this is America, and I always look at America as being a fair country, and I don't think anybody's life should hinge on a piece of paper that wasn't filled out correctly," Matthews said.  "We're out here today to let the world know, to let our president know that something has to be done with this immigration.  They're tearing up families.  Michel is one face, but there is many faces to this problem."

Mendy's sexuality is of major importance to this deportation case.  He is gay, and homosexuality in Senegal is against the law, which means if he is sent back, it could be a death sentence.

"He is gay, so therefore going home is not an option," said Seydi Sarr, general secretary of the Senegalese Association.  "He'll put his life in danger and his family's life in danger."

Mendy's supporters are hoping to delay deportation until they can get some relief from the court or lawmakers, but deportation could come at any day.

"I would like for [people] to call their congressman and say, you know, we're better than this.  We're better than this because I don't think that they would send their child anywhere to be murdered, either," Matthews said.

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