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Nigerian Girl Goes To Court To Stay In United States

September 7, 1988

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) _ A Nigerian teen-ager who is fighting deportation to her homeland because she says her father beat her will be allowed time to pursue her case further, her lawyer said Wednesday.

Hours before Omoleura Oyesiji, 17, was to be sent back to Nigeria on Tuesday, her lawyer, Susan Koenig-Cramer, filed a motion for a temporary restraining order to block the action.

During a brief hearing Wednesday, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service agreed to give Koenig-Cramer an additional day to file a motion for habeas corpus, which would claim Oyesiji is being held illegally by the INS. Filing of the motion would suspend the deportation order until a federal judge rules on it, said U.S. Attorney Ron Lahners.

The girl, a high school senior, is to stay with her foster parents in Omaha until her fate is decided, said Koenig-Cramer. The attorney said that at very least, she hopes the girl’s safety can be ensured if she returns to Africa.

In March 1987, Oyesiji moved from Nigeria to Omaha with her father and stepmother so her father could attend the University of Nebraska College of Medicine.

Omaha police responded to a call of a domestic assault at the family home in September 1987, authorities said. A doctor found scars on the girl’s body, possibly from previous beatings, Koenig-Cramer said. Though no charges were brought against the father, the girl was placed in a youth home.

In December, Oyesiji’s father and stepmother moved back to Nigeria, leaving the girl behind. Because the girl moved to the United States on her father’s visa, she was ordered to be deported, Koenig-Cramer said.

The girl’s foster mother, Sue Fichter, said she is a dedicated student who is earning good grades.

″She is a terrific girl,″ said Ms. Fichter. ″It was a supposed to be a temporary stay, but we liked her so much, we asked her to stay.″

Lahners said the INS had no choice but to try to deport the girl, since an immigration judge signed a deportation order in July.

″I think the immigration service is being very fair about it, in allowing the young lady all of her legal rights,″ Lahners said. ″But you must understand their situation. They must enforce the law.″

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