By Hernán Rozemberg - Express-News
He counters that he's a law-abiding family man who's flabbergasted by seeing the country that once welcomed him with open arms now wanting to dispatch him to possible death.
He now sits in Karnes City in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as the agency seeks approval from Central African Republic consular officials to deport him.
“They know who he is. The moment he arrives, they'll grab him and we'll never see him again,” said best friend Jean Ballet, 47, himself a Central African Republic émigré who — unlike his colleague — won his political asylum petition and was able to settle with his family in San Antonio.
During the 1996 coup, both Nguitte-Bekongo's and Ballet's homes were destroyed; their families fled to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
For that reason, Nguitte-Bekongo believes he'll be killed immediately if he returns home, his friends and family said.
By then, he'd married Jamie, who tried to sponsor him directly since she's a U.S. citizen. But the application wasn't successfully processed, a mishap they blame on poor legal work by Earl Levis, their lawyer.
But he placed the blame right back on the couple. After first seeking his services, they then disappeared, he said, noting he was surprised to hear of the pending deportation since they had a good case.
Immigration law is a labyrinthine of rules and policies that they did their best to follow, Nguitte-Bekongo's wife said. She thought her husband maintained legal status because of the marriage application, she said, noting they never were told he was supposed to have left the country for good.
Gail Erlitz, Nguitte-Bekongo's former U.S. Army instructor, now retired, was shocked to hear of his arrest.
She recalled how he was readying to return home when the coup took place. She and other military officials, as well as U.S. consular officials in Central African Republic, wrote Nguitte-Bekongo's superiors to assure them he was not deserting his post.
Still in disbelief, the soft-spoken, stay-at-home mom who planned to complete her bachelor's degree wondered how she will take care of the couple's four kids — ages 1 to 7 — since the family's savings are gone.
But even more worrisome, she said, is her husband's safety. She has been on the phone frantically seeking help, from friends to politicians.
“I just want him to come home,” said Julian, 6, to the nodding concurrence of his sister, Nicole, 5, who chimed in: “He always gives me candy.”