Lawrence business owner, convicted sex offender was allowed to stay in U.S. for more than a decade because ICE couldn’t get travel document

Lawrence business owner Raju Ahmed, a convicted sex offender, was arrested at his home Jan. 24, 2018 and is in the custody of United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, whose agents are pictured in a February 2017 Associated Press file photo.

A Lawrence business owner who has been detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement was allowed to stay in the U.S. for 12 years after being convicted of two felonies, including a sex crime, because the federal agency was unable to obtain a travel document for him, ICE said Tuesday.

Now that ICE has obtained the travel document, the Lawrence resident, Raju Ahmed, 40, is back in ICE’s custody at the Morgan County Adult Detention Center in Versailles, Mo., and faces deportation to his home country of Bangladesh, the agency said in an email. It did not elaborate on what precisely it meant by “travel document.”

However, an area firm specializing in immigration law, explained that a travel document is required if someone lacks a valid passport. Officials from the person’s home country must verify that the person is a citizen of that country and issue something that basically says “yes, he is ours and we will take him.” Some countries don’t issue the paper so ICE cannot remove the person in question. It’s unclear, though, whether this was the case with Ahmed.

Ahmed, who owns Tobacco Bazaar at 14 E. Eight St., was ordered to register as a sex offender for 25 years beginning on Dec. 7, 2005, following a felony conviction in Douglas County District Court of attempted aggravated sexual battery. The conviction stemmed from events on Dec. 27, 2004, that also resulted in a felony conviction of attempted aggravated burglary.

According to court documents, Ahmed was accused of entering a 28-year-old woman’s central Lawrence apartment without her permission and touching her sexually while she was “unconscious or physically powerless.” Originally charged with aggravated burglary and aggravated sexual battery, he eventually pleaded to the lesser felonies of attempted aggravated burglary and attempted aggravated sexual battery.

Raju Ahmed

Ahmed legally entered the country in June 2000 on a nonimmigrant visa, ICE said in its email, “but his legal status in the U.S. was terminated.” After he received a two-year sentence for the Douglas County crimes, ICE processed him for deportation based on a final order of removal issued on Aug. 22, 2006. However, six months later, in February 2007, ICE released him “after numerous attempts were made to obtain a travel document to return him to his home country.” Ahmed was placed under supervision while the agency “continued attempts to carry out his removal.”

During that time, Ahmed remained in the U.S., fathered two daughters — a 4-month old and a 9-year-old — and became the owner of a Lawrence business.

On Jan. 24, more than 11 years after the “final order of removal,” Raju Ahmed was arrested at his Lawrence home and taken back into ICE’s custody, where he awaits deportation.

His brother, Shaju Ahmed, of Overland Park, said his brother had turned his life around in recent years. Shaju Ahmed has formed a petition and has reached out to Kansas lawmakers to help his brother stay in the U.S.

This is the second case involving a Bangladeshi citizen in Lawrence who has reportedly been detained by ICE in recent days. In the other case, which is not related, research scientist Syed Jamal, 55, was detained and faces deportation. Jamal, who has lived in the United States for 30 years, has no criminal record in Douglas County. He has three minor children who are all U.S. citizens.