Undocumented Molecular Biologist Syed Jamal is Back in Missouri; Kansas Congresswoman Proposes Bill to Help Him

Three days after he was sent to Hawaii by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, undocumented molecular biologist Syed Ahmed Jamal is now being held in the Platte County, Missouri, jail, about 25 miles north of Kansas City. Change.org has launched a fundraiser to help stop the deportation of Jamal, seen here with his three children. (Jamal family photo)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Attorneys for a Kansas man fighting deportation to Bangladesh say he has been returned to Missouri.

Rekha Sharma-Crawford, Indian American attorney for 55-year-old Syed Ahmed Jamal, posted on Facebook Feb. 14 afternoon that he was being held in the Platte County, Missouri, jail, about 25 miles north of Kansas City. The post did not provide any other details.

It’s the latest move in a deportation fight that began Jan. 24, when Jamal was arrested at his home in Lawrence. He was held in Missouri jails until being taken to a detention center in El Paso, Texas. Immigration officials put him on a plane back to Bangladesh Feb.12. After a federal judge issued a temporary stay, Jamal was taken off the plane when it stopped to refuel in Hawaii.

Jamal has lived in the U.S. for 30 years with his wife, who is also from Bangladesh, and three children who are U.S. citizens.

Republican Rep. Lynn Jenkins has introduced legislation that would help the father who is fighting efforts by the U.S. to deport him to Bangladesh.

The bill that Jenkins introduced Feb. 13 would provide for the “relief” of 55-year-old Jamal. In a statement to 13 NEWS, the Republican congresswoman’s office said she has been talking to ICE, U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services, and other federal agencies ever since Jamal’s family reached out to her office.

“She is urging ICE to allow Mr. Jamal to return to his family while this process continues and is hopeful that an appropriate solution can be reached for a man who has spent 30 years here and is well respected and valued in the Lawrence community,” it continued. (Read full statement below.)

U.S. immigration officials put Jamal on a plane bound for his native country Feb. 12 before an immigration panel granted a temporary stay in the case. His attorney, Sharma-Crawford, said he was taken off the flight when it stopped to refuel in Honolulu.

Sharma-Crawford says government attorneys have indicated they’re coordinating efforts to bring Jamal to the Kansas City area.

Jamal has lived in Kansas for 30 years and has worked as an adjunct professor and researcher. Jenkins says her “heart aches” for his wife and children.

Jenkins’ full statement on Syed Ahmed Jamal:

“Congresswoman Jenkins has been actively engaged with ICE, USCIS, other federal agencies and his family on this matter from the moment Mr. Jamal’s family contacted our office. Meanwhile, she has worked with Congressman Cleaver to explore potential legislative options to assist Syed and his family. One such solution is a private bill, which Congresswoman Jenkins filed yesterday evening. She is urging ICE to allow Mr. Jamal to return to his family while this process continues and is hopeful that an appropriate solution can be reached for a man who has spent 30 years here and is well respected and valued in the Lawrence community.”

India-West had previously reported that Jamal was arrested in front of his home as he was preparing to take his daughter to school Jan. 24. As his young daughter watched, Jamal was led away in handcuffs and initially taken to the Morgan County detention center in Versailles, Missouri, Jan. 24. Later that week, he was transferred to the ICE detention center in West Texas. (see earlier India-West story here: http://bit.ly/2BIpZqT).

An immigration judge granted Jamal a temporary stay of deportation Feb. 8; a day later, the Department of Homeland Security filed a motion to rescind the temporary stay of deportation. Jamal continued to be held in ICE custody.

Jamal holds graduate degrees in molecular biosciences and pharmaceutical engineering, and currently serves as an adjunct professor of chemistry at Park University in Parkville, Missouri. He has no criminal history.

In 2012, India-West noted, former ICE director John Morton issued a “prosecutorial discretion” memo, which authorized agents to prioritize deportations to those who posed an immediate danger to the country. Jamal was allowed to remain in the country, and was issued a work permit, with directives to check in periodically with ICE.

But despite the Morton memo – which has not been rescinded – Jamal was arrested, though his attorneys said he posed no danger to his community or the country.

“ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan has made clear that ICE does not exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement,” noted the agency in an e-mailed statement forwarded to India-West.

Jamal’s brother told India-West that his brother came to the U.S. in 1987 to study at the University of Kansas. After his F-1 student visa expired, he went to Canada to get another F-1 visa, which was possible in those days, he said. He then returned to Bangladesh to secure an H-1B visa and worked for a few years before he was laid off, and had 60 days to leave the country. Jamal, who by this time had married and become a father, remained in the U.S. without immigration status.

Jamal’s wife, who came with her husband on an H-4 visa, lost her status when her spouse did. She also faces deportation, leaving the children at risk of being placed in foster care.

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