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Help may be on the way for a Georgia man from Kenya and others like him whose visa applications expired as a result of inaction by immigration authorities. A spokeswoman for Sen. C. Saxby Chambliss, who heads the Senate subcommittee on immigration issues, said Chambliss “is looking at a comprehensive solution” to help Charles Kibaara Nyaga and others in his situation. She offered no details. A move by Chambliss or another lawmaker is Nyaga’s only hope to stay in the United States with his family, according to one of his lawyers, Madeline S. Wirt. “You know the old saying ‘It takes an act of Congress’?” Wirt asked. “That’s what we need here.” Last month, Nyaga, 45, ran out of legal options when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear his appeal of a ruling by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. By a 2-1 vote, the 11th Circuit said Nyaga’s application expired on Sept. 30, 1998, regardless of whether immigration authorities had tried to process it. The 11th Circuit reversed a decision by Chief Judge Orinda D. Evans of the U.S. District Court in Atlanta. Evans, saying she would not reward “gross inaction” by the government, had ordered immigration authorities to process Nyaga’s application. Now a deportation hearing — the only outcome of which would be Nyaga’s removal from the country — is expected to occur within months, according to Wirt and immigration lawyer Charles H. Kuck. Nyaga could decide to leave the country on his own and save U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services the trouble and expense of deporting him. Doing so also would allow Nyaga to avoid being placed in an immigration detention center while awaiting deportation. “That’s his only option,” Kuck said. Nyaga’s saga started in 1996, when he and his wife, Doin Kainyu Kibaara, immigrated here from Kenya with their son and daughter. After graduating from technical college, Nyaga began working in guest services at a Marietta hotel and for a commercial cleaning service. Kibaara is a cashier at a Wal-Mart. In 1997, Nyaga won a State Department lottery that awards 100,000 applications for “diversity visas,” which are granted to citizens of countries that are underrepresented on America’s immigration rolls. Nyaga, whose immigration status directly affects his wife’s, filed his diversity visa application in February 1998. But according to court decisions, the Immigration and Naturalization Service did nothing to process the application beyond sending Nyaga’s fingerprints to be checked by the FBI. The INS responded in court briefs that it was “simply overburdened” and that Nyaga was not entitled to have his application processed within a specific period of time — in this case by the Sept. 30, 1998, end of the federal fiscal year. Asked about Chambliss’ efforts to resolve problems caused by INS inaction, a spokesman for Citizenship and Immigration Services said the agency would not get involved in pending bills in Congress. The spokesman, Christopher S. Bentley, said he did not know the details of Nyaga’s situation. Bentley added, however, that things have improved since the responsibilities of the INS were divided among three agencies of the new Department of Homeland Security. The INS had “conflicting missions,” he said, and the new Citizenship and Immigration Services bureau is “much more efficient.” Nyaga’s case at the Supreme Court was Nyaga v. Ashcroft, No. 03-430.

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