SOLDOTNA, AK (March 17, 2011) – The Department of Homeland Security has given a student at Alaska Christian College permission to remain in the country because of concerns he would be persecuted in his Muslim homeland.
The school has asked that the student’s name and that of his country not be used.
“The U.S. government heard the case for his safety as a Christian returning to a Muslim country that is intolerable for followers of Jesus,” says Keith Hamilton, president of Alaska Christian College. “His country could have him tried and executed for his outspoken faith in Jesus.”
The student was given “Withholding of Removal” status, says Rodney Sawyer, field director of the Evangelical Covenant Church of Alaska, which operates the school. Although the ruling means the student can stay in the country indefinitely, it also comes with restrictions.
“This is not asylum nor will he be granted it,” Sawyer says. “Rather, he can stay in the U.S., work here, and continue college with the blessing of the Department of Homeland Security.
“However, he can never leave the U.S. for any reason. If he does, then he has removed himself permanently.”
Seeking the status has been a tension-filled process – including the courtroom where a hearing was held – until the decision was announced. “He is at peace, excited to have this over, and was a great ‘evangelist’ even in the completely packed courtroom. No one left without witnessing his testimony nor his strong faith.”
After the decision, Sawyer said, “I was proud of him and our judicial system.” The student is now applying to further his education at a university.