Couple fights deportation to South Africa

06:07 PM PST on Saturday, February 19, 2005


BAINBRIDGE ISLAND, Wash. - After starting a new life and getting jobs to pay their own way in the United States, Mike and Carol Gormley are being forced to return to South Africa.

“I think I'd rather die than go back there,” said Carol Gormley.

In the middle of her workday, Mike brought in the news that the Gormleys view as their possible death sentence -- their deportation papers.

“Although I was half expecting it, it was like someone had taken a sledgehammer and whacked me,” Mike said.

“When I saw them, I broke down and started crying,” Carol said.

The couple said they fled Durban, South Africa about six years ago because of discrimination. They cheered at the end of apartheid until they were forced from their longstanding jobs. They felt threatened and became fearful, and applied to the United States for asylum.

“I said: ‘Mike, it is our lives at stake here. We have to go,’” Carol said.


Mike Gormley
The Gormleys said Mike's life is at risk if they must return. He has already had two triple bypass heart surgeries.

Their co-workers and community have donated thousands of dollars.

“We understand the law has been implemented,” said one co-worker. “What we're looking for is the heart and compassion behind the law.”

The Gormleys are fighting for a deportation deferrment, as their American dream threatens to fade.

“That means the end of our lives and the end of our future, it really does,” Carol said.

The Gormleys have been ordered to leave the U.S. on March 11.

There will be a candlelight vigil for the couple at 7 p.m. Sunday in the Bainbridge Island Safeway parking lot.



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