UPDATE 2/8/2018: Syed Ahmed Jamal has been granted a temporary stay by Judge Glen Baker to allow his brother time to correct Jamal’s immigration status.
Syed Ahmed Jamal of Lawrence, Kansas, was arrested by ICE on January 24th from his front yard while he was trying to drop his daughter off at school. Jamal, 55, had been living in the United States for 30 years and was a chemistry professor at Park University in Kansas City. His family was not allowed to say goodbye to him as immigration officials arrested him.
Jamal’s oldest son, Taseen, told the Kansas City Star that as Jamal’s wife reached to hug her husband during his arrest, ICE officials warned her that she could be charged with interfering in an arrest.
ICE claimed that Jamal’s arrest is due to twice overstaying his visa and violating a judge’s order in 2011 to leave the country. Jamal arrived in the U.S. from Bangladesh with a student visa, switching to a HB-1 Visa and back to the student visa when he enrolled in a doctoral program. When arrested, he was working on a temporary work permit as an adjunct professor.
Jamal lived with his wife, also from Bangladesh, and his three children who are U.S. citizens. His lawyer, Jeffrey Bennet, claims that ICE could potentially let Jamal stay for a number of reasons: Jamal lacks a criminal record and has had a strong work record during his time in the U.S. Additionally, there is risk to his safety in Bangladesh, and he has three American children who depend on him.
Jamal is Bihari, an ethnic minority facing persecution and discrimination in Bangladesh. In a letter he read aloud in a video by the Kansas City Star, Taseen said of the removal of his father, “If he is sent back to Bangladesh, he’ll be in grave danger, as people of his kind are persecuted there. Just in 2014, nine people of his kind were burned alive, eight of them being from a single family.”
This past Saturday, supporters of Jamal and his family gathered at the Plymouth Congregational Church in Lawrence to write letters of support for Jamal to the Department of Homeland Security. The organizers claimed they expected 50 people to show up, but about 500 did.
An online petition on Change.org requesting a stay of removal for Jamal has garnered over 28,000 signatures so far. A GoFundMe account was also set up for the family so that they could pay for any legal expenses while fighting for their father to stay in the United States.
Jamal’s family claims he is being held at a jail in Morgan County in Missouri, pending his removal. Bennet appealed to the DHS to allow Jamal a temporary stay of removal, which could let Jamal file a court motion to re-open his immigration case.