Park University professor’s arrest by ICE garners national media attention

An adjunct chemistry professor at Park University is facing deportation and has grabbed national headlines with his arrest in Lawrence, Kan. late last month.

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. Jamal, who was preparing to take his three children to school at the time of his arrest, is being held in the Morgan County (Mo.) Detention Center and faces possible deportation for an expired visa violation.

He 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.

Characterized as a respected scientist, thousands have rallied to his cause, including Park University President Dr. Greg Gunderson.

“While we have only limited information about the complex issues that apply to Syed’s case, we hope there are options that may allow this husband, father, valued community member, scientist and educator to remain in the United States,” Gunderson said. “I am sending a letter of support to ask immigration officials to find a way to keep him here. Although I recognize and respect that there are differences of opinion concerning immigration in our country, I support our Park family and stand committed to advocate, through love and reason, for the members of our University community.”

A petition on has garnered 35,000 signatures as of press time and a GoFundMe account to assist his family has also been launched, raising approximately $25,000 in the last three days.

Park University officials state Jamal met all requirements to work legally in the United States at the time of his hire just weeks ago. Park human resources official Dr. Roger Dusing said Jamal completed an I-9 form and provided the required documentation plus he passed an EVerify background check, which compares the information provided against a variety of government databases.

Jamal provided Park officials with an employment authorization document card, which did not expire until October of this year.

According to ICE officials, 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 and had most recently been issued the temporary work permit he presented to Park University.