Chemistry professor detained by immigration officials after 30 years in US

Posted at 4:04 PM, Feb 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-06 16:04:08-05

LAWRENCE, KS (KSHB/CNN) - Tens of thousands of people are showing their support for a chemistry professor in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody for overstaying his visa.

"A home is not a home without a father" is the heartbreaking message from Syed Jamal's three children on a petition aimed at stopping his deportation.

"He does fear he could be deported at any time and separated from his family," said Jeffrey Bennett, Jamal's attorney.

Jamal came to the U.S. 30 years ago from Bangladesh and is a respected chemist who most recently taught at Park University.

Bennett said Jamal did initially overstay his visa but was later granted what's called prosecutorial discretion. 

"It's not a visa, however. It's basically an indefinite protection from deportation," he said.

That protection can vary based on the administration. 

For Jamal, it seemingly expired on Jan. 24, when he was arrested in his front yard while getting his kids ready for school. 

Since then, thousands have signed this petition while others have written letters of support.

The president of Park University drafted a letter of his own. 

In a statement, he wrote, "We hope there are options that may allow this husband, father, valued community member, scientist and educator to remain in the United States."

Jamal himself wrote a letter to officials, telling them he fears for his safety back in Bangladesh because he was a target of discrimination and physical violence as a member of an ethnic minority in the country.

His son Taseen wrote, "If my father is deported, my siblings and I may never get to see him again," a possibility made more real- considering how long he'd have to wait to return to the U.S.

"At this point if he were deported, he would have to leave and remain outside the country for at least 10 years," Bennett said.

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