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DENVER — A Denver man came to the U.S. from Kenya to start a new life. Now, he's fighting to stay here with the help from area high school students.
Two weeks ago, Anthony Wanjiru received a letter stating an application to extend his H-1B visa had been denied. He is just days away from being deported with no idea of what the future holds.
Wanjiru has been in the U.S for eight years after escaping the infamous slums of Nairobi.
"It's an area known for prostitution drugs and crime,” said Wanjiru. “I used to rummage for food in the dump sites. Seeing your friends die from malnutrition and gangster activities.”
He has worked in the IT department at Valor Christian High School in Highlands Ranch since 2014.
"He cares so much about the community and a person as a whole, " said student Spencer Pankratz.
Wanjiru is set to be deported March 7.
"This has been my home. My work is here. My friends are here. You're packing your bags and just leaving," said Wanjiru.
He was one of three people selected out of 1,200 applicants to come to Colorado for a scholarship program. He received a master’s degree and volunteers with the Denver Rescue Mission. He also helps new refugees.
"Coming to the U.S. was a godsend of opportunity,” he said. “A chance to really better my life."
Once back in Kenya, Wanjiru would have to enter a lottery to return to Colorado — a year-long process with no guarantees.
Meanwhile, students at Valor have started a campaign to keep him here, with #AnthonysVisa.
"He's the most humble, caring person you'd ever meet,” said student Hunter Khan.
"He's an amazing guy, and he's really brought an amazing influence to Valor,” said student Lindsay Stenstrom.
The Highlands Ranch school said in a statement, “our prayers and support for him are unwavering."
Wanjiru said it's his students and his adopted country he'll miss the most.
"If there's one thing that keeps me crying at night, it's the thought of not seeing them. I love America very much," he said.
Monday, Wanjiru met with the offices of Cory Gardner and Michael Bennett. He said they've offered to help him, which may give him a few more weeks to plan an appeal.