SAN DIEGO -- Christmastime continues to be a magical time for Joseph Bukombe, a San Diego resident who faces deportation to homophobic Uganda, where lawmakers want to pass the notorious "Kill The Gays" bill.
On Dec. 23, 2011, Bukombe was released from federal detention in Otay Mesa after spending two years behind bars fighting deportation. He had been detained on a DUI charge.
Since then, Bukombe has been living and working in San Diego while continuing his legal efforts to remain in the U.S.
This week, Bukombe was granted a two-year reprieve, according to his supporters. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement released the following statement:
"Consistent with its enforcement priorities, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has granted Mr. Bukombe deferred action for a two-year period to afford him further time to pursue legal options. At the end of that timeframe, ICE will reevaluate his case to determine appropriate next steps."
On his Facebook page, Bukombe expressed his joy at the news.
"To all my friends and well wishes, just wanna say a big thank you for all your prayers and hard work, donations and everything you guys did to see to it that my life is safe. i want yo thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am now a free man. ... i also sent out thanks to you all, thank you all and God richly bless you.
Bukombe this week spoke with Michael Chen of Channel 10 News, and said his holiday wish came true.
"I was so, so, so, so happy," Bokombe said. "I'm grateful. It's amazing."
When asked what he thought would happen if he was sent back to Uganda, Bokombe said, "Definitely, without a doubt, I would be killed."
Numerous people and groups in San Diego and beyond rallied to help Bokombe. They included the Rev. Canon Albert Ogle and his St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, a San Diego-based organization that aims to encourage communities to develop reconciliation projects.
Ken Williams is Editor in Chief of SDGLN. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, @KenSanDiego on Twitter, or by calling toll-free to 888-442-9639, ext. 713.