Park professor now at Platte County jail

The Park University adjunct chemistry professor detained by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) whose story has swept across social media and national news is now in custody in the Platte County Detention Center.

Syed Jamal, 55, an immigrant from Bangladesh who has lived in the United States for more than 30 years, was arrested by ICE agents at his home in Lawrence, Kan. on Wednesday, Jan. 24. Since, his story has blown up, with public officials and citizens alike coming to his defense.

Jamal, who was preparing to take his children to school at the time of his arrest for an expired visa, was first held in the Morgan County (Mo.) Detention Center before he started an involuntary cross-country trek that ended up late last week back in Platte City. He was transferred to Sierra Blanca, Texas, just before a judge granted a stay of deportation, which was later revoked. On Monday, Feb. 12 he was transported from Texas to Hawaii, but while in the air another stay was granted by the Board of Immigration Appeals. He was then returned to Platte County, where he still waits in the detention center.

According to Jamal’s attorney Rheka Sharma-Crawford, efforts to keep him in the country are ongoing and the case is being transferred back to the immigration court in Missouri for further consideration.

U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, Mo., and U.S. Rep Lynn Jenkins, Kan., have filed a “private bill” in the hopes Jamal and his wife can both be granted permanent residency. Rallies, petitions and crowd funding campaigns have garnered hundreds of thousands of supporters wince his arrest.

Jamal earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Kansas, and started teaching advanced inorganic chemistry at Park University at the beginning of the spring term. Jamal has done research work for University of Kansas, Children’s Mercy, Rockhurst University and other entities.

Park University officials have stated Jamal met all requirements to work legally in the United States at the time of his hire just weeks ago.

According to Sharma-Crawford, the path to citizenship for immigrants is difficult and a procedural error made during an attempt to file for citizenship may have led to the current situation.

ICE officials say Jamal twice overstayed his visa and in 2011 was ordered to leave the country. Jamal entered the United States on a student visa, then stayed on a specialized visa for highly-skilled workers. He returned to a student visa when he finished his PhD at University of Kansas and had most recently been issued the temporary work permit he presented to Park University.