LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP/Meredith) — Supporters of a Kansas chemistry instructor hope immigration officials will be lenient because he has lived in the United States for 30 years without problems and has a family.
Syed Ahmed Jamal was arrested in his front yard in Lawrence, Kansas, on Jan. 24 as he walked his seventh-grade daughter to school, according to KCTV 5 News.
The 55-year-old Jamal, who is from Bangladesh, arrived in the United States in 1987 on a student visa to study at the University of Kansas. Most recently, he was teaching at Park University.
Jamal's lawyer, Jeffrey Bennett, says an immigration judge allowed Jamal to remain in the country on a supervised basis provided he checked in regularly.
"He was granted prosecutorial discretion on an indefinite basis, but that can be taken away at any time and that has happened just recently," Bennett told the news station.
President Donald Trump has toughened immigration enforcement. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials say Jamal lost an appeal of a removal order four years ago.
During a demonstration on Saturday, dozens of Jamal's supporters wrote letters to the immigration judge handling his case to emphasize his work in the community and his love for his family. Parents who are pleading for his release said the professor coached youth sports and even ran for the school board a year ago.
"We need people like Syed in our community," said Susan Baker Anderson, who organized the event. "I really think this is one where Syed needs to come home."
Anderson also helped start a petition on Change.org in support of Jamal, urging ICE to grant him a stay of removal. As of Monday, it's garnered more than 22,000 signatures.
Jamal's 14-year-old son, Taseen, said in a statement posted on the petition's website, that he and his siblings will be devasted if their father is deported.
"My little brother cries every night, my sister can't focus in school, and I cannot sleep at night..."
"If my father is deported, my siblings and I may never get to see him again. He is an older man, and due to the conditions of his home country, he might not be able to survive."
Jamal's case now rests in the hands of Department of Homeland Security. His lawyer wrote a letter to the agency on Feb. 2 to request a temporary stay of removal so Jamal could file a court motion to have his immigration case reopened.
Meanwhile, a GoFundMe page is raising money for his family and legal costs.
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