After literally scores of tear-jerking article from the Kansas City Star and the national media about the immigration authorities’ cruel indifference to the plight of Lawrence resident Syed Jamal, the Star surely surprised its readers with a grudgingly honest article about Jamal’s casual indifference to the law.
“Some say Jamal has himself to blame, writes the Star’s Rick Montgomery a little more indirectly than he needed to. “He twice overstayed his visa, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and missed chances to keep his status legal.”
Immigration law is stringent, the reader learns. One slip can be fatal. “And Jamal had a few slips dating back more than a decade.” Again, “slip” here is something of a euphemism, but for Star readers “slip” is shocking enough.
Writes Montgomery, “Jamal’s original student visa had expired in 2000, according to ICE, so he returned to his home country.” This glosses over the fact that Syed overstayed his visa and had to return.
Jamal returned with his bride in 2002 on a four-year H-1B work visa–“Then, a second slip.” Jamal waited too long to loo long to file for a student visa to pursue and this put him at serious risk for deportation. Then the authorities slipped and allowed Jamal a student visa before catching their mistake. They revoked his student visa in 2008.
Writes Montgomery, “In 2011 came Jamal’s next mistake.” An immigration judge generously gave Jamal the option to return to Bangladesh and re-enter the United States on a free visa. “But Jamal didn’t go. He had family reasons.”
“Every time you seek forgiveness, the government is less likely to give it,” said immigration attorney Jeremy McKinney. If a client does not comply, McKinney added, “it can make the situation worse.”
A year after his failure to leave the country, the court ordered Jamal to be deported. He spent two months in jail in 2012, but ICE did not demand his immediate removal given that he was not a criminal or flight risk. He played a waiting game for the next five years until authorities apparently lost patience.
“He may be brilliant in the field of science,” lawyer Bill Niffen told the Star. “But that doesn’t mean he was an expert in immigration.”
After 20 years of gaming the system, Syed Jamal was more of an expert than people think.