Chemists, professors & researchers; oh my!


February 15, 2018 - 12:00 AM

In rooting out illegal immigrants, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents are going for the low-hanging fruit. Instead of searching out felons, they’re targeting families. The mom-and-pop kind with a flock of kids.
Such is the case of Syed Jamal, the 55-year-old chemistry instructor from Lawrence, who was arrested the morning of Jan. 24 as he was preparing to drive his children to school. Visibly upset, his wife and three children — all U.S. citizens — were warned they risked arrest if they attempted to give Mr. Jamal a departing hug as he was being led away.
No, Mr. Jamal is not a criminal. In fact, he’s a do-gooder, working as a chemist to save lives and stamp out diseases in addition to being a beloved college instructor for the past 30 years
But to ICE, he’s a danger, or more to the point, a needed statistic, to prove the Trump administration is making a concerted effort in fighting illegal immigration.
All along, the White House stance has been to categorically paint these people as criminals and rapists and a danger to society, when in truth, it’s that kind of rhetoric that tears at our moral fabric.

HERE’S THE SCOOP.  Mr. Syed came to the United States (legally) in 1987 from his native Bangladesh as a 25-year-old to study chemistry at the University of Kansas. He excelled at his studies and pursued a master’s degree in pharmaceutical sciences and then a doctorate in microbiology while working at Children’s Mercy Hospital in genetic research and its link to cancer.
During this academic journey his student visa papers expired and he was ordered deported in 2011, upon which he received a reprieve as long as he checked in with immigration authorities on an annual basis, which he did. His work permit remains valid until October.
Even so, his immigration status raised a red flag and ICE agents descended upon the family home.
After being detained in an immigration detention center in El Paso, Mr. Syed was put on a plane Monday bound for Bangladesh. It was on a stop in Honolulu that immigration officials escorted Mr. Syed off the plane. On Wednesday afternoon, he was on a flight to Kansas City.
For the past seven years Mr. Syed has been snared in a sea of red tape in an effort to gain legitimacy to remain in the United States.
Such a man is a credit to our country. If he is allowed to remain, may we pray that he gives us a second chance.

— Susan Lynn