Park professor released from local custody

The chemist and Park University adjunct professor whose story of arrest and possible deportation has swept across national news was released by order of a federal court Tuesday, March 20, pending final dispensation of his immigration case.

Syed Jamal

Syed Jamal

Syed Jamal, 55, an immigrant from Bangladesh who has lived in the United States for more than 30 years, was arrested by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents at his home in Lawrence on Wednesday, Jan. 24. He was in custody at the Platte County Detention Center after a cross-country trek that ended in Hawaii when a court blocked his immediate deportation last month.

He was released from the detention center Tuesday afternoon.

U.S. District Judge Roseann Ketchmark ordered Jamal to be released in a packed courtroom Tuesday morning in the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Kansas City. While the release is good news for his family, it does not affect his immigration case, which will come up for hearing next month before the Board of Immigration Appeals.

Since his arrest for overstaying his visa, the story has made headlines nationwide, with many, including the Park University president and lawmakers coming to his defense. Rallies in his honor have been held, petitions started and crowd funding campaigns launched.

According to Jamal’s attorney Rheka Sharma-Crawford, efforts to keep him in the country are ongoing.

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 stated Jamal met all requirements to work legally in the United States at the time of his hire.

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.