Local chemist, father returns to Kansas City as deportation fight continues

Syed Ahmed Jamal, 55, a native of Bangladesh who has lived in the U.S. for more than 30 years, was arrested Jan. 24 in the front yard of his home in Lawrence as he walked his children to school. (Submitted)

The Board of Immigration Appeals has granted a new stay of removal that would keep a Kansas chemist in the U.S. while he battles immigration officials' efforts to deport him to Bangladesh.

Attorneys for 55-year-old Syed Ahmed Jamal said a federal immigration judge on Monday dissolved a temporary stay issued last week, meaning Jamal could be deported at any time. Jamal's attorneys immediately filed a new motion for stay with the Board of Immigration Appeals in Virginia.

Jamal, who has lived in the U.S. for more than 30 years, was arrested Jan. 24 in Lawrence.

Federal Judge Glen Baker, of The Kansas City Immigration Court, issued the stay last week and gave the Department of Homeland Security until Feb. 15 to respond to an emergency motion to stay the deportation and re-open immigration proceedings, attorney Rekha Sharma-Crawford said.

At about 6:51 a.m. on Monday, Jamal's family members say he was taken from a detention center in El Paso, TX, and put on a plane. Jamal's attorneys at the Sharma-Crawford firm in Kansas City say, for hours, no one knew where Jamal was.

Jamal's family says they are thankful for the second stay but say they believe several actions, taken on Monday, violated his due process rights.

“To put a family through that where they don't know where their loved one is. It's outrageous," Attorney Rekha Sharma-Crawford said. "What we were told is he was taken from the facility at 6:51 in the morning, that is before there was an order anywhere.”

“I believe the plane took off before our lawyer got a notice. How is that due process,"Jamal's brother Syed Hussain asked. "I want the government to tell us how is that due process? They are basically trying to run the clock out on us intentionally.”

Jamal's attorney says the Department of Homeland Security is supposed to inform attorneys before moving their clients and says that did not happen in this case.

“This lack of notice and this rush to push everybody out of the country, that is what is so unconscionable,” Sharma-Crawford said.

The second temporary stay was granted at about 4:30 p.m. on Monday as the plane carrying Jamal had stopped to refuel in Hawaii. Attorneys say, Jamal was allowed to get off the plane and is being held at a Honolulu Federal Detention Center until a final decision is made.

Jamal's attorney says she and the family are still waiting for word about whether or not he will be held in Hawaii or moved to another location. They hope he can be returned to the Kansas City area.

“We continue to hope, at the end of the day, the family will be able to remain together and we will have a favorable outcome," Sharma-Crawford said. "It is our hope justice will prevail here.”

“Bring him back close to his family. He has three young kids. Fourteen, twelve and seven. all US born citizens," Syed Hussain Jamal said. "Is the goal to rip a dad apart from a family of US-born citizens?"

The future remains unclear until the family receives a final order in the case. Jamal’s attorneys are asking he be placed back on a supervision order and allowed to stay with his family while his case goes through the legal process.

Jamal’s family has not seen him since he was taken into custody by ice from his front lawn in January.

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri and Rep. Lynn Jenkins of Kansas issued statements Monday saying they were disappointed in the judge's decision.“I am disappointed in the judge’s decision to deport Mr. Syed Jamal. I understand his attorneys are appealing the decision. I will continue my plans to draft a bill to show how this broken and unfair immigration system affects families, who have responsibilities and deep ties to their communities. The system is broken. We need to fix these laws that criminalize hard-working, contributing members of society like Mr. Syed Jamal and that’s what I plan to push for in Congress.”

The arrest and possible deportation prompted a backlash, with an online petition drawing more than 58,000 signatures and a GoFundMe campaign raising more than $37,000 in less than a week. Hundreds of sympathizers also contacted members of Congress. U.S. Kansas Republican Reps. Kevin Yoder and Lynn Jenkins, as well as Democrat Rep. Emanuel Cleaver from Missouri, contacted immigration authorities to discuss the case.

Last week, his relatives expressed their thanks to supporters.

"I guess I've become an activist," said Jamal's oldest son, Taseen, who is 14.

Syed Ahmed Jamal, a Bihari ethnic minority, arrived legally in the U.S. in 1987 to attend the University of Kansas but overstayed his visa while pursuing a doctorate. He has taught chemistry at area colleges and did research at hospitals. For the past five years, the Department of Homeland Security allowed Jamal to remain in the U.S. on orders of supervision, meaning he had to report on a regular basis to ICE offices, where he was issued temporary work authorization cards.

As recently as January, his work card enabled Jamal to secure a teaching position at Park University in Parkville, Missouri. He also has been an adjunct instructor at Rockhurst University and Kansas City Kansas Community College. He was on parental advisory boards at his children's schools and last year made an unsuccessful run for a seat on the Lawrence school board.

ICE has not explained why it chose to arrest Syed Ahmed Jamal last month.

Copyright 2018 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) and the Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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