The wife of a Kenyan man is lobbying the Australian government after her husband was called by Immigration officials for a visa interview, but instead he was handcuffed and taken into detention.
John Mbuthia Mwangi, 31, is facing deportation after the officers arrested him on arrival at the offices.
Mwangi, who has been in detention since 14 February, says that he was told the appointment with immigration was to confirm that his application for an extended bridging visa had been accepted, but was also told to ensure his family remained at home.
“It was a set-up,” he said. “He could have told me: you are coming in to be detained,” he told The Guardian.
His wife, Semisha Mwangi is a Noongar woman and the couple married according to Noongar law in Narrogin – Semisha’s family’s traditional land in 2017 – before marrying under Australian law at a ceremony in Perth in December.
She said told the Guardian that Mwangi is a devoted stepfather to her seven-year-old son and co-carer with her to her sister’s three children aged one, three and 12 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 said.
On Saturday, he was informed that he would be deported to Kenya on Monday March 25.
Semisha 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. Instead, his wife, and their young children went along to show support.
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 February 7, 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.