Brother worries Lawrence scientist could be deported within days; Kansas congressman ‘disturbed’ by prioritization of noncriminal case
• • •
Syed Ahmed Jamal, the longtime Lawrence resident and father of three whose deportation case has made national headlines over the last week, could be deported as soon as next week.
Those close to the Bangladeshi-born scientist only learned of the tentative deportation date earlier this week, Jamal’s brother, Syed Hussein Jamal, told the Journal-World Wednesday.
“The information we are receiving from (the Department of Homeland Security) — and we have reason to believe it is accurate — is that he is being staged for deportation Friday. And from that point, he will likely be removed early next week,” said Rekha Sharma-Crawford, Jamal’s attorney.
Motions for a stay of removal and to rescind Jamal’s final deportation order filed earlier this week are still pending, Sharma-Crawford said in a news release issued Wednesday afternoon. Without a stay of removal, the release said, “Jamal remains at risk of being deported from the U.S.” before the Immigration Court can review his case.
Sharma-Crawford argues in the release that the deportation order is “flawed” and “not what the American legal system stands for.” She also said the chances of ICE officials exercising prosecutorial discretion in releasing Jamal from jail or allowing him to remain in the U.S. are “unlikely.”
“DHS (the U.S. Department of Homeland Security) could recognize the legal issues at play and agree to either stay his removal pending completion of his legal proceedings, or they could agree that the order is flawed, and let the case proceed as a matter of course,” Sharma-Crawford said.
The agency’s next step, she said, “remains to be seen.”
Sharma-Crawford later told the Journal-World late Wednesday afternoon that she has been heartened by the response from U.S. lawmakers to Jamal’s case, which have so far included Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Missouri; Rep. Ro Khanna, D-California, and Republican Reps. Kevin Yoder and Lynn Jenkins of Kansas.
Yoder on Wednesday released a statement on the impending deportation of Jamal, describing the case of the 55-year-old Bangladeshi-born father as disturbing.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested Jamal outside his Lawrence home Jan. 24, more than four years after a federal judge ordered that Jamal be deported from the U.S. Those close to Jamal, who is a scientist and academic, including Jamal’s recently retained immigration attorney, have expressed confusion over why ICE officials chose to arrest Jamal after he has lived peacefully in the U.S. for more than 30 years.
“Congressman Yoder was disturbed by this story and we have been in contact with ICE since the weekend, inquiring about what has caused Mr. Jamal to be in a priority for removal if he hasn’t committed any crimes in addition to overstaying his visa in 2011,” the statement from Yoder’s office read.
Yoder represents Kansas’ 3rd District.
“Generally, Kevin supports ICE prioritizing violent criminals given its limited resources and keeping families intact,” the statement said. “This case seems to run counter to those policies.”
Jamal and his wife, who is also from Bangladesh, have three children under 18, all of whom are American citizens. He does not have a criminal record in Douglas County.
Jenkins, who represents the 2nd District, which includes Lawrence, also issued a statement on Jamal’s case Wednesday:
“After hearing from a member of Mr. Jamal’s family, the Congresswoman initiated an inquiry to the appropriate agencies to discern the details of Mr. Jamal’s detention,” the statement said. “For privacy reasons we are unable to comment further.”
According to information released by ICE, Jamal entered the U.S. in 1987 on a nonimmigrant visa. He overstayed that visa but was allowed to voluntarily depart the country in July 2002.
Jamal was allowed to legally re-enter the country on another nonimmigrant visa in October 2002. He again overstayed his visa, and a federal judge ordered him to voluntarily depart the country by October 2011. However, ICE contends Jamal failed to depart the U.S. and the judge then issued a deportation order in 2011.
Jamal, however, did not leave the U.S. Instead, ICE said “Jamal came to ICE’s attention” in September 2012. The statement did not elaborate on how Jamal came to ICE’s attention, and instead only said that Jamal was “transferred to ICE custody Sept. 11, 2012 from the Johnson County (Kansas) Jail.”
Regardless, Jamal was not deported in 2012. Instead, he was allowed to file an appeal of his deportation order, according to the statement from ICE. A federal appeals board in May 2013 dismissed Jamal’s appeal, and he was again ordered to leave the country.
However, ICE has not provided any explanation about why it had not enforced the deportation order for more than four years or what sparked the agency to enforce the order last month, during which it also arrested on the same day another Lawrence resident from Bangladesh, Raju Ahmed.
Unlike Jamal, Ahmed, who owns the downtown Lawrence store Tobacco Bazaar, has a criminal record in Douglas County. Ahmed has two felony convictions from 2005, including a sex crime, and has been on the state sex offender registry for 12 years. ICE told the Journal-World that Ahmed was allowed to stay in the country for so long because it could not obtain a necessary “travel document” to return him to Bangladesh. During the nearly dozen years that he was allowed to remain — with a pending order for removal hanging over his head — he bought a Lawrence business and fathered two children.
The Lawrence community has rallied around Jamal since news of his Jan. 24 arrest broke late last week. Letter-writing campaigns at Plymouth Congregational Church and the Islamic Center of Lawrence on Saturday attracted hundreds of participants. As of early Wednesday evening, a Change.org petition created in support of Jamal had reached nearly 50,000 signatures.
Organizers behind the petition are also hosting a protest in support of Jamal from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday in Lawrence. The march will begin near the Lawrence Creates Makerspace, 512 E. Ninth St., before making its way to Massachusetts Street.
Jamal’s attorney said papers were filed Monday to legally challenge the 2011 proceedings that ordered Jamal to voluntarily leave the U.S. Sharma-Crawford expects the Department of Homeland Security to file a response either Wednesday night or Thursday morning, with the anticipation that the department will likely oppose motions to grant a stay of removal and rescind Jamal’s final deportation order.