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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Friday, May 17, 2024

UW student in federal custody

UW-Madison students mobilized this weekend to help save Tope Awe, a pharmacy school student, from deportation. 


Federal officials arrested Awe and her brother Oluwagbenga Thursday in the Milwaukee immigration office. Both Awe and her brother are now in custody at the Dodge County Jail, and a hearing could be scheduled for Monday to determine the outcome of their detainment.  


Awe is a third-year pharmacy student hoping to graduate in May. She was the co-chair of the African Student Association for the 2006-'07 school year, the co-president of Multicultural Affairs Program in Pharmacy and currently works for the diversity program in University Housing as the multicultural liaison.  


She was involved with so much on this campus,"" Awe's friend Nurilign Ahmed said. ""Everyone who has come in contact with her has only had positive things to say about her."" 


Caton Roberts, a UW-Madison psychology professor who worked closely with Awe while she worked as a multicultural residential consultant and liaison at Chadbourne Residential College, visited Awe over the weekend. 


""Although she hadn't had any contact with anyone since her detention, she said she felt well and she appeared to be in excellent physical and emotional health,"" Roberts said. ""She was appreciative of the many efforts being made on her behalf by various persons and groups at the university.""  


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According to her father Samuel Awe, who received his Ph.D. from UW-Madison in 1979, Homeland Security officials came to their home in December 2007 and told him and his wife they had overstayed their time allowed in the United States according to their visa expiration dates. However, he said officials did not say either of their children were in danger of being deported.  


He said he was unaware that the questioning in Milwaukee about Awe's immigration status would lead to her arrest. 


""I began to worry after about an hour of the interrogation. We did not know what was happening but the questioning resulted in Tope's arrest."" 

Awe said his family moved from Nigeria in 1989 when his daughter was 3 years old. 


""This is the only country Tope knows."" 


Students and friends continue to do what they can to help Awe finish her last year at UW-Madison. Students organized a Facebook group and an online survey to collect statements of support to be sent to the hearing.  


Students plan to hold a rally on Library Mall today at 12:30 p.m. to speak out against Awe's detainment. 


""I'm really proud of our students and the efforts they're putting forth for a fellow classmate to allow her to finish her school here,"" Dean of Students Lori Berquam said. ""I think that goes to the heart of who are students are. We're really caring and committed which is very, very important.

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