A Muslim professor from Kansas who has lived in the United States for more than 30 years has been detained by immigration agents and now faces deportation.
Syed Ahmed Jamal, who is originally from Bangladesh, was about to take his daughter to school on 24 January when US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials showed up at his house in Kansas, and arrested him, according to his brother Syed Hussain Jamal.
His brother who lives in Phoenix told NBC news: “It wasn’t expected. He never expected to have ICE there.”
When Professor Jamal’s shocked wife tried to hug her husband goodbye, ICE agents stopped her, telling her “that they would arrest her for interference” if she didn’t let them take him immediately, according to the brother.
Professor Jamal, 55, is a chemistry instructor who came to the US lawfully on an international student visa in the 1980s, according to his lawyer, Jeffrey Y. Bennett.
He has three children, all of whom are US citizens, and he has no record, other than a few speeding tickets that have long been resolved.
Mr Bennett said the arrest was “very traumatising for the whole family”.
Professor Jamal has a “long history” of trying to attain US citizenship, Mr Bennett added.
He is being detained more than 150 miles away from his home, at the Morgan County Detention Center in Missouri.
In a statement, the ICE said that he had overstayed a temporary visa in the past and disobeyed a judge’s order to leave the country.
The agency added that “Jamal came to ICE’s attention in September 2012. Based on an active ICE arrest warrant, he was transferred to ICE custody Sept. 11, 2012, from the Johnson County (Kansas) Jail.”
The ICE statement continued: “He was released from ICE custody on an order of supervision in November 2012. On May 21, 2013, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) dismissed Jamal’s appeal of his removal order.”
Jamal’s brother denied that there were criminal charges issued in 2012, and said Professor Jamal was pulled over for a traffic stop in 2012.
Mr Bennett could not confirm details of that detainment. But he insisted his client had no criminal history besides the aforementioned speeding tickets.
A Change.org petition which is asking the ICE for a stay of removal for Professor Jamal has received more than 93,500 signatures, and a GoFundMe had raised more than $64,664 (£46,800) to help the family with legal fees.
In a letter shared on the family attorney’s website, Professor Jamal’s eldest child, Taseen, wrote that since his father’s arrest, “My little brother cries every night, my sister can’t focus in school, and I cannot sleep at night.”
“My father called us, and he was crying like a little child because he was thinking about what would happen to us if he got deported,” Taseen wrote.