Syed Jamal’s wife, three children and brother visited him at the Platte County Jail in Platte City, Missouri — about a 50-minute drive from their home in Lawrence, Kansas. But despite hopes to talk with Jamal, his lawyer says the family only saw him through a window.
Attorney Rekha Sharma-Crawford wrote in a Facebook post that the family were unaware they had to arrive 30 minutes prior to the scheduled meeting time. “While they were thankful for the visual, the disappointment of being that close with no verbal or physical contact was heartbreaking,” she wrote.
The lawyer told the Kansas City Star that in the course of three phone calls with jail staff during which the visit’s timing was discussed, the 30-minute policy was never mentioned.
However, a sheriff’s official told the newspaper the rules are stated on the department’s website and in a jail handbook.
Jamal’s oldest son, 14-year-old Taseen, told KSHB, “It’s really sort of…dehumanizing when you do this to someone.”
Sharma-Crawford is asking immigration officials to release the Jamal, who has no criminal record, while his case moves through the courts.
ICE had put the 55-year-old science professor on a flight back to his home country of Bangladesh last Monday, Feb. 12, which was in the air when an immigration court granted him a stay of removal and the plane was forced to turn around, the Star reported.
The father of three has two American graduate degrees and teaches at several community colleges in the Kansas City area. He originally came to the legally U.S. on a student visa and had obtained a temporary work permit but, after his status lapsed in 2011, a court had ruled he could remain in the country as long as he checked in with ICE, according to the Washington Post.
His brother, Syed Hussain Jamal, said he can see no logical reason for him to remain in detention.
“For the life of me, I can’t figure out what they’re doing by holding him, what the purpose is,” he said. “It’s just a waste of government money, taxpayers’ money.”
Inmates at the Platte County Jail for civil offenses can only receive visitors one day a week for 30 minutes, while those held for criminal offenses can do so several times throughout the week.
That means Jamal’s children won’t have a chance to see their dad again until next Sunday.
“I would say that dad, I like you, I love you,” 7-year-old Fareed Jamal said. “You’re the best….like my mom.”
“He wants to hug us and talk to us in person, but he can’t do that,” daughter Naheen Jamal said.
ICE agents arrested Jamal outside his home in front of his family on Jan. 24, as he was leaving to take his children to school.
According to his attorney, Jamal had been living in the U.S. for about 30 years.