For Syed Ahmed Jamal, a 55-year-old chemistry professor and father of three, it seemed like a typical Wednesday morning. However, before he could reach his car to take his young daughter to school, officials from Immigration and Customs Enforcement were waiting for him outside of his home in Lawrence, Kansas. He was detained and is currently facing deportation.
Jamal left his home country of Bangladesh in 1998 and immigrated to the United States on a student visa. In that time he received degrees in bioscience and pharmaceutical engineering and then settled in Lawrence to raise his children, who are all American citizens.
At the time of the arrest, Jamal was teaching chemistry at Park University in Kansas City on a temporary work permit. He was also conducting scientific research at various hospitals in the area. His undergraduate and masters degrees were all earned in the United States, and he has lived in the country for more than 30 years.
“I don’t understand why this is happening,”Jamal’s daughter told KMBC News. “So that’s frustrating cause he hasn’t done anything wrong.”
In a statement released to ABC News, ICE say they became aware of Jamal after an arrest for misdemeanor criminal charges in 2012. Jamal was released but required to report to an ICE Office following his arrest. In May of 2013, the Board of Immigration Appeals dismissed his appeal for a removal order.
Regarding his immigration status, ICE explained that Jamal had overstayed his visit to the United States on a temporary nonimmigrant visa. When Jamal failed to return to Bangladesh, the judge issued a final order of removal, ultimately resulting in his arrest.
Since his arrest, a change.org petition has garnered over 27,000 signatures, pleading with ICE to grant him a stay of removal. The petition argues that he is a model citizen who should be allowed to stay in the country.
Jamal’s arrest is part of an increasing number of arrests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Following the 2016 election, President Donald Trump vowed to deport two to three million undocumented immigrants, emphasizing that the focus would be on those with criminal records. According to a report from NBC News, arrests made by ICE have increased by 25 percent since Trump took office.
Jamal’s wife, who is also from Bangladesh, declined to comment. However, a letter written by Jamal’s oldest son, Taseen, was included on the change.org petition. “We are the children of Syed Ahmed Jamal, and we are requesting on behalf of our family for your kind help to get back our father,” it reads. “A home is not a home without a father.”