Kansas City, MO (February 7, 2018) Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials took into custody Syed Ahmed Jamal, a husband, father of three, chemistry professor and community leader, on January 24, 2018. Mr. Jamal is detained at a Morgan County, Mo. jail while awaiting an immigration judge’s decision on granting a stay of removal. The motions for a stay of removal and to rescind a final deportation order were filed with the court and served on Department of Homeland Security (DHS) attorneys on February 5, 2018. They remain pending.
Mr. Jamal has deep ties to the United States having come to America from Bangladesh over 30 years ago on a student visa. He was granted an H-1B visa for highly skilled workers and then transitioned to another student visa when he enrolled in a doctoral program. Despite his efforts to secure permanent status in the US, he found himself in removal proceedings. He was advised by an attorney that he was only eligible to leave the country voluntarily, despite his fear of returning to Bangladesh. His failure to depart caused the triggering of an automatic deportation order. Mr. Jamal obtained his work permit after DHS placed him on an Order of Supervision (OSUP). OSUPs are given to individuals so that they may remain out of custody despite the existence of a deportation order. They allow individuals to obtain employment authorization from DHS.
At the time of Mr. Jamal’s arrest in January, he was an adjunct chemistry professor at Park University in Kansas City and was conducting research at area hospitals. Without a stay of removal, Mr. Jamal remains at risk of being deported from the U.S. as soon as early next week and before the Immigration Court can review the matter. In accordance with the February 20, 2017, Kelly Memorandum, Enforcement of the Immigration Laws to Serve the National Interest, it is unlikely that ICE officials will exercise prosecutorial discretion in releasing Mr. Jamal from jail or allowing him to remain in the country.
“Only an immigration judge has the authority to cure the defective proceedings. At the very least, Mr. Jamal is entitled to a proper hearing resulting in a proper order,” states Rekha Sharma-Crawford, Mr. Jamal’s attorney. “This is about the rule of law and the integrity of a system. If we allow flawed orders, which would never be tolerated in any other legal proceeding or in society in general, to be the basis of removing a beloved father, husband and community member, it is a bigger threat to the system than this one case. To tear apart a family and drag them out of a country after having such meaningful ties, is a tragedy, plain and simple.”
“The law requires that certain formalities be met in order to grant voluntary departure. This responsibility is placed, by the rule of law, on the judge and not anyone else. Where a judge fails to carry out this important duty, the order is invalid. This is true in every area of law. For example, parties can agree to get divorced, but a judge must still follow the law and enter a valid order, which can satisfy the legal requirements. The same is true for Mr. Jamal. Deporting a person when the order is not legally sound is a threat to the system. That is not what the American legal system stands for,” says Sharma-Crawford. “DHS could recognize the legal issues at play and agree to either stay his removal pending completion of his legal proceedings, or they could agree that the order is flawed, and let the case proceed as a matter of course. What they will do remains to be seen. In the meantime, a family remains divided and his wife and children struggle every day without him.”
Contrary to what ICE had indicated, Mr. Jamal was not charged with or convicted of any crimes, misdemeanor or otherwise. Sharma-Crawford says, “This is another American story turned into a nightmare by the current divisive climate regarding immigration. It sends a false message that immigrants are criminals and detrimental to America.” ICE statements also have indicated that Mr. Jamal appealed his case. The Board of Immigration Appeals (Board) reviewed his case based on their “certification” authority, and as such, to call it an appeal is a mischaracterization of what occurred.
Several members of Congress show a willingness to maintain a sense of humanity in the immigration debate. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (MO), Rep. Kevin Yoder (KS), and Rep. Ro Khanna (CA) voice their concerns about the methods ICE used in this instance. “Children should never have to watch immigration officials forcibly take a parent from their home. The damage the Agency is doing to the next generation is profound,” Sharma-Crawford states.
About Sharma-Crawford Attorneys at Law
Sharma-Crawford, Attorneys at Law is a nationally recognized firm specializing in the complexities of immigration litigation. Practice specialties include criminal or civil litigation in state, federal or immigration court. The attorneys of Sharma-Crawford also speak and educate peers and the community on issues pertaining to the complexities of immigration and immigration litigation. The firm is located on the border of Kansas City’s Westside and the Crossroads Arts District.