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From Ohio to Kansas to rural Washington state, Americans are increasingly outraged about the rubber stamp deportation policy the Trump Administration is implementing.
On a recent Wednesday morning, Syed Ahmed Jamal was getting ready to take his daughter to school when he was stopped outside his home in Lawrence, Kan.
Officials from Immigration and Customs Enforcement were on his front lawn. Before Jamal, 55, could say goodbye to his wife and three children, the ICE agents detained him and led him away in handcuffs.
The arrest of a “beloved Lawrence family man, scientist and community leader” came as a shock to Jamal’s friends and neighbors in the Kansas City area, where he has lived since arriving in the United States on a student visa from Bangladesh more than 30 years ago. He would go on to also attain graduate degrees in molecular biosciences and pharmaceutical engineering, then settle in Lawrence to raise a family.
Jamal’s deportation case is another example of an immigrant who had been under a routine order of supervision with the U.S. government and was allowed to remain in the United States with his family and work legally, as long as he attended regular check-in meetings with ICE. Now, with the Trump Administration eager to ramp up its deportation numbers, suddenly immigrants like Jamal who have been faithfully complying with government requirements are at the top of the deportation list.
As with similar case of Amer Adi Othman in Ohio, diverse members of Jamal’s local community have rallied around him. Over the weekend, hundreds gathered at the Plymouth Congregational Church and Lawrence Islamic Center in Lawrence, KS to write letters to ICE, asking that Jamal be allowed to return to his family. Jamal’s friends started a GoFundMe account and Change.org petition on his behalf. Already, the campaigns have earned nearly $20,000 for his legal fees and 25,000 signatures have been gathered in support of a stay.
A powerful video from the BBC shows similar support for local immigrants in Washington state’s Pacific County, where immigrant arrests and detentions quadrupled in 2017. “In a rural county that voted for Trump, people are shocked to see friends deported and schoolmates disappear. Now a community is coming to terms with the economic and emotional consequences” reads the introduction for the BBC video “The missing – consequences of Trump’s immigration crackdown.”
The piece highlights how members of the community, including local law enforcement, are dealing with the aftermath of deportations, where “friends, neighbors, people they go to church with” become the “empty seat” in the pews or the classroom. Trump voters are interviewed expressing deep regret about the deportations and their impact on local families and businesses. Says one law enforcement official who voted for Trump: “I didn’t sign up for this. And shame on me for being short-sighted about this, but it’s not just.”
Meanwhile, new polling in Iowa and across the United States shows the American people are in firm disagreement with the Trump Administration over a variety of immigration issues.
“As the Trump Administration targets more and more immigrants who have lived here for decades, more and more Americans are finally realizing what’s at stake. Deportation is not an abstract policy; it’s a profound punishment that fundamentally alters the lives of individuals, families and communities,” said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund.
“Syed Jamal’s community wants him released because they know he is a good person and does not deserve this. The same was true for Amer Adi Othman in Ohio, and is true for the many other men, women, and children whose names we do not know. As Americans wake up to the tragedy and consequences of Trump’s mass deportation policy, we need to keep translating outrage into action,” he continued.