LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas father and husband who is fighting efforts to deport him to Bangladesh was taken off a plane that was flying him back to his native country and is being held at a detention center in Hawaii, his attorneys said Tuesday.
Federal immigration officials put Syed Ahmed Jamal, who has lived in Kansas for 30 years, on the plane Monday before a federal immigration panel granted a temporary stay in the case. He was taken off the flight when it stopped to refuel in Honolulu, the firm representing him, Sharma-Crawford Attorneys at Law, posted on its Facebook page. Attorney Rekha Sharma-Crawford didn’t immediately reply to messages left Tuesday seeking further details, and it’s unclear what the next step will be for Jamal, who is hoping to remain in the U.S. with his wife and three children, who are all U.S. citizens.
It was the latest dramatic turn for Jamal, who has been battling deportation since Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested him Jan. 24 at his family’s home in Lawrence.
A federal immigration judge early Monday removed a temporary stay he issued last week for Jamal, who was being held in a detention center in El Paso, Texas. His attorneys immediately sought a new stay from the Board of Immigration Appeals in Virginia, which granted one later Monday, but not before Jamal was put on a flight to Bangladesh, Sharma-Crawford said Monday.
Jamal’s possible deportation had prompted 94,000 people to sign a petition in his support. Rep. Emauel Cleaver, a Democrat from Missouri whose office was flooded with calls about the case, took up Jamal’s cause, even visiting him in El Paso over the weekend. On Monday, before the second order was issued, he issued a statement saying he would continue with plans to draft a bill prompted by Jamal’s case that shows how “this broken and unfair” immigration system affects families who have deep ties to their communities.
Rep. Lynn Jenkins, whose Kansas district includes Lawrence, also said before the second stay was issued that she supported Jamal’s efforts to have his immigration case reopened.
“My heart aches for his wife and children,” Jenkins said. “I cannot imagine what they are going through during this very difficult time.”
Jamal has worked as an adjunct professor and researcher at Kansas City-area colleges. He entered the U.S. legally in 1987 to attend the University of Kansas but overstayed his visa while pursuing a doctorate. He was ordered deported in 2011 but had been allowed to stay in the U.S. and check in regularly with immigration authorities.
Sharma-Crawford said Jamal has a work permit that is valid until October 2018 and that he was trying to work within what she said was a complicated immigration system.
ICE officials have consistently declined to explain why they chose to enforce the order in late January.