Whether a Lawrence scientist who has been in the U.S. for 30 years will be deported is now in the hands of a judge.
Syed Ahmed Jamal, the Bangladeshi-born father of three who was recently detained by ICE, has been granted a temporary stay of removal. Jamal’s attorney, Rekha Sharma-Crawford, said at press conference Thursday that the stay essentially holds the process in place while a judge reviews both sides of the case.
Sharma-Crawford said the proper legal process was not followed in Jamal’s case and that she had asked an immigration judge to rescind the deportation order. She did not make any predictions about the outcome, but had confidence that the motions were strong.
“I believe there is merit to them, and I believe that the rule of law requires that that order should be rescinded,” Sharma-Crawford said.
Sharma-Crawford Attorneys at Law, the Kansas City, Mo.-based law firm representing Jamal, announced news of the stay Thursday morning and held a press conference with Jamal’s family Thursday afternoon at the law office.
Federal Judge Glen Baker, of the Kansas City Immigration Court, issued the stay Wednesday, Sharma-Crawford said. She said that Baker will now review Jamal’s case, and a decision is expected within 10 days.
Members of Jamal’s family said they have not been able to speak to Jamal since his arrest on Jan. 24. Jamal’s son, Taseen, said that while he was very happy to hear about the stay, what he and his siblings want is for their father to come home.
“Everything is certainly in a better position than it was earlier because we got the stay of removal process,” Taseen said. “I do really hope we’ll be able to see him again, but at the moment nothing is really that certain.”
Jamal was previously in custody in Missouri, but Sharma-Crawford said he was moved to El Paso, Texas, this week and that the government is “staging him for removal.” Jamal’s situation goes back a deportation order that was made in 2011 after he overstayed a visa. Sharma-Crawford said Jamal has a work permit that is valid until October 2018 and that he was trying to work within what she described as a complicated and unfriendly immigration system.
“He’s never missed a check-in, he’s never gotten in trouble with the law, he hasn’t done any of these things,” Sharma-Crawford said. “And so for them to unilaterally ambush him on a particular morning, there’s some fundamental problems with that.”
Sharma-Crawford said she does not know what prompted Jamal’s arrest, but that she presumes that it’s because a travel document was obtained. A travel document is issued by the home country of a person being deported and is required if a person lacks a valid passport. It states that the person is a citizen of that country and can be sent back there.
Sharma-Crawford said in addition to the motions related to the stay, she has also filed a federal habeas corpus petition in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.
Jamal’s wife, Angela Zaynub Chowdhury, their three children and his brother, Syed Hussein Jamal, attended Thursday’s press conference. Chowdhury said if her husband is sent back to Bangladesh, he will have no one to go to, and she pleaded for help to get him back.
“Please help us get him back and be free,” Chowdhury said. “He lived in Kansas more than 31 years, more than he lived in Bangladesh. He really loved the community; he wanted to contribute.”
In his time in the U.S., Jamal has earned multiple degrees from area universities, worked as a research scientist and an educator and been active in the schools of his three children, who are U.S. citizens. The public has rallied around Jamal and his family since news of his arrest broke. Letter-writing campaigns at Plymouth Congregational Church and the Islamic Center of Lawrence on Saturday attracted hundreds of participants. As of Thursday afternoon, a Change.org petition created in support of Jamal had reached nearly 60,000 signatures.
Following the press conference, Sharma-Crawford told the Journal-World she cannot predict what the judge we will rule. She said if the judge rules to deport Jamal, she is concerned he could be deported immediately, before an appeal is possible.
More coverage: Syed Jamal deportation case• Feb. 14 — Immigration law expert explains rocky path to citizenship; for cases like Syed Jamal's, it's complicated
• Feb. 14 — Syed Jamal back in Kansas City area, but still detained, attorneys say
• Feb. 13 — Rep. Jenkins introduces bill that would assist Lawrence father Syed Jamal in deportation battle
• Feb. 12 — Board of Immigration Appeals grants new stay of removal for Syed Jamal
• Feb. 8 — Crowd marches downtown to support detained Lawrence scientist Syed Jamal
• Feb. 8 — Lawrence scientist Syed Jamal granted temporary stay of removal; judge's ruling on deportation expected within 10 days
• Feb. 7 — Brother worries Lawrence scientist could be deported within days; Kansas congressman ‘disturbed’ by prioritization of noncriminal case
• Feb. 6 — Mystery grows around pending deportation of longtime Lawrence resident; online protest petition tops 27,000 signatures
• Feb. 3 — Bangladeshi-born Lawrence scientist, father of 3 now facing deportation after 30-plus years in U.S.