Hundreds join letter writing campaign to stop deportation of Park University professor

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- A father and husband in Lawrence, Kan. is facing deportation. Syed Jamal was detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents at his home in late January.

Jamal is an immigrant from Bangladesh who has lived in the US for more than 30 years. He is married and has three children.

He earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Kansas, and most recently has been teaching at Park University.

Syed Jamal

FOX 4's Shayla Patrick went to Lawrence on Saturday where many showed up for a letter writing campaign.

We’re told an estimated 600 people showed up at houses of worship like this one today to write letters to government leaders trying to urge them to grant a stay of removal for his father so he can stay in the United States with his family.

An online petition to keep Syed in the US calls him a "well-respected Molecular Biologist" who has done research for the University of Kansas, Children's Mercy, Rockhurst University, and other entities.

Mr. Syed Ahmed Jamal, beloved Lawrence family man, scientist and community leader, has been detained by ICE agents and is being held in jail in Morgan County, Missouri awaiting deportation.  Syed is a well-respected Molecular Biologist who has done significant research with the University of Kansas, Children’s Mercy, Rockhurst University, and other local entities.  He has lived in the United States for thirty years and has attained his undergraduate and graduate degrees here.  Syed is a devoted supporter of his children’s schools, regularly volunteering in classrooms and on site councils and recently mounting a campaign for a vacated school board seat.  Syed is viewed as a leader within his faith community at the Lawrence Islamic Center as well.

ICE Released a statement saying Jamal was detained for overstaying his visa and violating a judges order to voluntarily depart the county.

Following news of his detainment community members have started online petitions, organized rallies and various outreach to campaign for Jamal’s release.

Taseen Jamal, Syed's son

“We are providing them the opportunity to write a letter and we have notaries that can write a letter and just give the ICE and whoever else who can make the decisions a picture of Syed as a person and why this community loves him,” said Susan Baker Andersen who co-organized the letter writing campaign.

“It's really touching and I'm never gonna forget how many people came, weather or not  they knew our family personally but it feels great to know that the community, how small it may be is great.  There are a lot of people who care about us here,” said Taseen Jamal, Syeds 14-year-old son.

Jamal being held in jail in Morgan County, Missouri awaiting deportation.

There’s an online petition collecting signatures to help stop the deportation of Syed Jamal, as well as a GoFundMe account set up to help the Jamal family with legal costs.

ICE released a statement explaining why Syed was detained.

Syed Ahmed Jamal, 55, from Bangladesh, initially legally entered the United States in July 1998 on a temporary nonimmigrant visa. After he overstayed that visa, a federal immigration judge allowed him voluntary departure until Aug. 26, 2002. He abided the judge’s order and departed for Bangladesh on July 24, 2002. Three months later, Jamal legally re-entered the United States on Oct. 25, 2002, on a temporary nonimmigrant visa. He again overstayed his visa, and a federal immigration judge allowed him voluntary departure until Oct. 26, 2011. However, Jamal violated the judge’s order and failed to depart the United States, and the voluntary departure order instead became a final order of removal (deportation).