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ICE Moves Rapidly To Deport Lawrence Chemistry Professor And Strip His Legal Rights

Courtesy of the Syed Jamal family

Updated Thursday, 10:15 a.m.

The Kansas City law firm representing Syed Jamal posted on its Facebook page Thursday that Jamal had been granted a temporary stay in his deportation case. 

Sharma-Crawford Attorneys At Law wrote: "Temporary Stay Granted." A neighbor of the Jamal family in Lawrence, Susan Anderson, confirms that Jamal's lawyer also told her the stay was granted Thursday. 

The original story continues below. 

A Lawrence chemistry professor and father of three facing deportation 30 years after coming to the United States from Bangladesh is quickly running out of time. Syed Jamal could be out of the country and stripped of his legal rights within days.

Jamal’s attorney, Rekha Sharma-Crawford, says U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials plan to take Jamal on Friday to a collection point where he and other undocumented immigrants from Bangladesh will be held before the government transports all of them back together.

Sharma-Crawford contends that an immigration judge mishandled Jamal’s case, and says his deportation is unlawful. But, she says, all legal challenges are moot once Jamal leaves the U.S., and argues that his speedy deportation is meant to subvert the process.

“You know the government, they hold all the cards, they hold all the power, and when they use these tactics, I think it becomes very troubling on a greater level,” says Sharma-Crawford.

Jamal came to Lawrence from Bangladesh decades ago on a student visa to attend the University of Kansas. He got a bachelor’s degree, then a master’s in pharmaceutical sciences. He got another visa to work at Children’s Mercy Hospital. He has taught at several area universities, most recently at Park University. Jamal’s three kids were born in the United States. They say it had been years since he'd had as much as a speeding ticket, so the January 22 raid in which ICE agents jailed him seemed to come out of nowhere.

His case has sparked a wave of support in the city, with residents writing hundreds of letters and an online petition in support of him attracting tens of thousands of signatures. Sharma-Crawford says targeting Jamal for removal illustrates a harsh change in U.S. immigration policy.

“We’re not really going to discriminate between: 'Are you a good person or are you a bad person?” Sharma-Crawford says of the Trump Administration's policy. “I think that is a determination that the administration put in place a year ago January, and now you’re seeing it play out in communities across the country.”

Sharma-Crawford says she’s looking at options outside of immigration court, but admits that Jamal, his three U.S. born children and his wife are in a difficult position with very little time.    

Frank Morris is a national NPR correspondent and senior editor at KCUR 89.3. You can reach him on Twitter @FrankNewsman.

I’ve been at KCUR almost 30 years, working partly for NPR and splitting my time between local and national reporting. I work to bring extra attention to people in the Midwest, my home state of Kansas and of course Kansas City. What I love about this job is having a license to talk to interesting people and then crafting radio stories around their voices. It’s a big responsibility to uphold the truth of those stories while condensing them for lots of other people listening to the radio, and I take it seriously. Email me at frank@kcur.org or find me on Twitter @FrankNewsman.
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