Syed Jamal, has unending gratitude for the Plymouth Congregational Church for coming to his defense when he was arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents on January 24 at his home.
Jamal was born in Bangladesh and is a chemistry teacher at a local college in Lawrence.
In 2011, a deportation order was issued after Jamal overstayed a visa. His work permit remains valid until October 2018. His attorney explains that he was trying to work in a “complicated and unfriendly” immigration system.
After his January 24 arrest, he was being detained in a Missouri jail for 45 days before his March 20 release. Once released, he was reunited with his wife and three children.
At Plymouth Congregational Church’s Sunday service, Jamal came up to the pulpit and spoke of the good that collective action can do. The congregation had worked tirelessly to champion his cause, garnering media attention, organizing a letter-writing campaign to the Kansas congressional delegation, and providing courtroom support for his family. Jamal credits all the hard work of the congregation to his release.
Jamal said, “From that, we learned the lesson that actions do matter, and if we come together, wonderful things can happen…You set an example for others and for my children by what you did, and for that, I say thank you.”
A friend of Jamal’s in the congregation, Alan Anderson, said that he simply did what God would have asked of him. According to Anderson, “He requires we do something…This congregation did that. When the history is written on this episode, it will remember all your stories.”
Jamal’s immigration battle is far from over. His case is now headed to the Board of Immigration Appeals, an administrative appellate court within the U.S. Justice Department.
The length of the BIA process for Jamal is unknown.
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