Bangladeshi-origin chemistry teacher, Syed Ahmed Jamal’s life has faced major ups and downs over the last few weeks since he was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents Jan. 24, from his Lawrence, Kansas home.
In the latest twist, a Republican lawmaker has introduced a private member bill in Congress that if passed, would enable Jamal to get permanent residence for himself and his wife. His children are already U.S. citizens. On Feb. 14, Republican Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins of Kansas, introduced H.R. 5010, titled “For the relief of Syed Ahmed Jamal and Zaynaub Jahan Chowdhury.”
Support for Jamal’s remaining in the U.S. appears to be bipartisan. Earlier, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Missouri, went to meet Jamal when he was detained in El Paso, Texas, after being flooded with calls expressing concern over the fate of the Bangladeshi immigrant, a statement by the lawmaker said. Sharma-Crawford’s Facebook page carried a photo of Jamal speaking to the Congressman from behind a glass panel while incarcerated.
On Feb. 8, Cleaver issued a statement that he had written to the Assistant Director of ICE “encouraging him to exercise favorable discretion and grant a stay of deportation” for Jamal. Cleaver has been an advocate for a clear and permanent pathway to citizenship and is opposed to funding for a border wall.
Jamal was brought back to the mainland and is now at a Missouri detention center after being taken off a plane bound for Bangladesh. He was flown back from Honolulu where he had been offloaded because a Judge ordered a second stay on his deportation while he was en route to Bangladesh.
An update and a video of the press conference was posted by his attorney Rekha Sharma-Crawford, on her firm’s website Feb. 14. The message read,”We have confirmed that Syed Jamal is back in KC (Kansas City, Missouri), and being detained at the Platte County Jail.” She also announced the press conference before the jail, attended by among others, the family members of Jamal including his wife and children.
At the press conference, Sharma-Crawford said it was up to ICE to decide whether to send Jamal back home to his family and asked for his release. “He has a valid work authorization till October 2018, has been here with no criminal history whatsoever, and there’s no reason to hold him,” she said. She added that he was in good spirits and that his job is waiting for him. she lauded the campaign by Jamal’s friends who have set up a GoFundMe and Change.org petitions.
The Change.org petition, “Help to stop the deportation of Syed Ahmed Jamal,” started by a family friend, Marci Leuschen, has now garnered 100,566 signatures, by around noon of Feb. 15. The GoFundMe page for Jamal also started by Leuschen, has so far raised $70,110 and hopes to reach its goal of $75,000.
Earlier, Jamal was on a plane bound for Dacca Feb. 12, when a judge issued a second stay on the evening of the same day, the Associated Press reported. Jamal’s brother also appealed to ICE “to do the right thing. Do the family thing.”
On Feb. 12, when a federal immigration judge removed the temporary stay order issued a week before, Sharma-Crawford, immediately filed a new motion for a stay with the Virginia Board of Immigration Appeals, Associated Press reported. That court issued a stay while Jamal was on the plane.
The Bangladeshi chemistry instructor came to this country on a student visa more than 30 years ago, getting degrees in molecular biosciences and pharmaceutical engineering, and settling in Lawrence with family. At some point he switched from a student visa to an H-1B visa and then back to a student visa when he enrolled for a Ph.D., according to a Washington Post report. When he was arrested, Jamal had a work authorization permit, teaching chemistry as an adjunct professor at Park University in Kansas City, the Post reported.