© 2024 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Syed Jamal Ordered Released From Jail, Still Doesn't Know Whether He'll Be Deported

Sharma-Crawford Attorneys at Law
Syed Jamal was ordered to be released from the Platte County Jail on Tuesday.

Syed Jamal, the Bangladeshi-born scientist whom the federal government is trying to deport, must be released from jail, a judge ruled Tuesday.

Jamal, who has been in detention for the last 56 days, was released from the Platte County Jail later Tuesday and reunited with his wife and three young children, who live in Lawrence.

U.S. District Judge Roseann Ketchmark said that though the government was entitled to detain Jamal for a reasonable period of time, his lack of a criminal history and his strong ties to Lawrence favored his release. 

Jamal, who has lived in the area for more than 30 years and taught chemistry at the college level, had overstayed his visa and was detained by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials in front of his home on Jan. 24 as he was preparing to take his daughter to school. 

Jamal is still waiting to hear whether he'll be deported, as ICE officials had sought to do on Feb. 13, when he was flown as far as Hawaii. The Board of Immigration Appeals in Virginia halted his deportation after his lawyers appealed, and it isn't expected to rule on his case before May.

If the board upholds the deportation order, Jamal still may be able to stay in the country. A private bill sponsored by U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kansas, would grant him lawful permanent residence in the U.S.

Alan Claus Anderson, Jamal’s neighbor in Lawrence and an attorney with the Polsinelli firm who recently was retained by Jamal’s family, said the legislation has been submitted to the House Judiciary Committee. He said there’s an extensive information gathering process, “but then we hope it can move fairly quickly, swiftly."

"There’s a matter of making sure they have what they need or questions are answered in that process,” Anderson said. 

Credit Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3
KCUR 89.3
Syed Jamal’s wife, Angela Zaynaub Chowdhury (center), and daughter (right) stand outside of the federal courthouse in Kansas City on Tuesday after a judge ordered Jamal's release from detention.

The courthouse in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, was packed with family, friends and supporters of Jamal, who applauded after the 90-minute hearing ended. 

Jamal previously was allowed to stay in the United States under orders of supervision, which enabled him to get temporary work permits. He was previously detained in 2012 for 57 days. 

For now, Ketchmark said, Jamal will need to check in periodically with immigration authorities as he had under his previous order of supervision. 

After the hearing, U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver released a statement saying that he was pleased Jamal, "will be able to spend some much needed time with his wife and children but this is far from over."

"The current immigration system is broken and affects families who have responsibilities and deep ties to their communities," the Kansas City Democrat said. "We must 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.

Dan Margolies is a senior reporter and editor for KCUR. You can reach him on Twitter @DanMargolies.

Dan Margolies has been a reporter for the Kansas City Business Journal, The Kansas City Star, and KCUR Public Radio. He retired as a reporter in December 2022 after a 37-year journalism career.
KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and award-winning podcasts.
Your donation helps keep nonprofit journalism free and available for everyone.