Skip to main content

ALERT: KPBS 89.5FM is undergoing scheduled upgrade work which may result in a temporary signal outage. Click here to listen on our radio stream.

LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Vaccines | Racial Justice

Congolese Family Pleads For Help With Dad’s Asylum Case

Five-year-old son of Constantin Bakala makes flyer in support of his father, ...

Photo by Jean Guerrero

Above: Five-year-old son of Constantin Bakala makes flyer in support of his father, Feb. 28, 2019.

The family of Constantin Bakala gathered in downtown San Diego on Thursday to submit a petition with the federal government, with nearly 500 signatures, asking for their father not to be deported.

As soon as Friday the father of seven from the Democratic Republic of Congo may be returned to a country where he fears he’ll be killed. The family fled home in 2017 after they were tortured and poisoned because of Bakala’s calls for democracy, according to the family.

After a harrowing journey through some of Latin America's most dangerous countries, including a shipwreck where they lost important documents for their asylum case, the family was separated upon arrival in the U.S. through the San Ysidro Port of Entry. Bakala was put in detention while his wife and kids were released on parole. His asylum petition was rejected, his family says, because he couldn’t get an attorney from inside detention until months into his case.

His children made flyers in support of their father at the downtown gathering, saying things like "I love you dad," and "Justice for Constantin." His 15-year-old daughter Marie Louise spoke and broke into tears: “I miss my dad a lot. Please don’t deport my dad. Give him a chance.”

Reported by Anica Colbert

Bakala has been moved from detention center to detention center: from Georgia to Alabama to Louisiana to Virginia. Immigration and Customs Enforcement did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

"Please give me the strength," his wife Annie Bwetu Kapongo told reporters at downtown gathering, adding that she didn't know how she was going to be able to provide for seven children in a foreign country without the help of her husband.

His attorney, Julie Ann Hartle, said she filed a motion to re-open the case with new evidence and is requesting a stay on his deportation. The judge Michael Baird rejected evidence that Bakala filed because Bakala wasn't able to obtain certified translations of the documents from his detention center.

As soon as Friday, a father of seven from the Democratic Republic of Congo may be returned to a country where he fears he’ll be killed.

You can hear this story and other local news every morning by subscribing to San Diego Stories, KPBS’ daily news podcast. Subscribe via iTunes, Google Play or your favorite podcatcher.

FEATURED PODCAST

San Diego News Now podcast branding

San Diego news; when you want it, where you want it. Get local stories on politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings. Hosted by Anica Colbert and produced by KPBS, San Diego and the Imperial County's NPR and PBS station.

  • Need help keeping up with the news that matters most? Get the day's top news — ranging from local to international — straight to your inbox each weekday morning.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Curious San Diego banner

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.