After release from jail, Syed Jamal shares details about case

Posted at 4:43 AM, Mar 22, 2018

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For the first time in almost two months, Syed Jamal is a free man.

The father, husband, brother, and Park University teacher was on the brink of being deported to Bangladesh multiple times after being arrested by ICE agents in late January for overstaying a voluntary departure order in 2011.

A day after being released from ICE custody, Jamal spent Wednesday with his family and running errands.

“You can hug your wife. You can hug your kids. You can hug your brother or you can walk out and see nature,” he explained. “It’s a liberating feeling. You have your freedom. You can smell the air. You can look at the trees.”

After weeks of turmoil and uncertainty for his family, Jamal spent his first full day of freedom drinking morning tea with his wife, shopping at the grocery store, and getting a haircut.

“We came home and had a late breakfast. Omelettes and bread. It’s the best breakfast in the world you can get,” he said, laughing. “Jail food is bland. They try but there’s hardly any taste.”

The story that got national attention all began on January 24 in Lawrence.

As Jamal was getting set to take his children to school, ICE agents showed up at his home and took him into custody.

“As I get inside about to take the car out, I heard a slight tap on the door,” he explained. “I came out and they said we’re here to get you. Another guy came with handcuffs. I was handcuffed.” 

During the arrest, Jamal’s wife and children pleaded with the officers to let him stay.

Instead, the ICE agents put him in the back of a car and drove him to a detention center.

“I could have hugged my children but I was shocked,” he explained. “It’s hard to say if I would have been allowed to.”

Over the next eight weeks, Jamal was sent to several detention centers.

After starting in Morgan County (MO), ICE agents took Jamal to the Platte County Jail and detention centers in both Texas and Hawaii as his case played out in court.

In an interview with 41 Action News, Jamal said he would often read to pass the time in jail.

“You’re in a new place. Some of these places are filled with inmates and immigrants,” he explained. “Your heartbeat does go up and you cry. I cried in the beginning for (the children) and for my siblings, for my community. I would remember the good times at home.”

Despite the possibility of deportation and reality of not seeing his family for quite some time, Jamal said he never gave up hope.

“I believe that if you raise your children, work hard, if you care about the community and care about people, if you don’t try to hurt anyone, something good can happen to you,” he explained. “It did happen.”

After a judge first ruled against his stay of removal, another judge ruled in favor of Jamal as he was being flown to Hawaii.

During a stay at a federal detention center in Honolulu, Jamal thought about his daughter when he saw the view of the island from his cell.

“She talks about this geology with lava volcanoes and mountains,” he explained. “At least I can go back and tell her about this.”

After being flown back to the metro and held in custody at the Platte County Jail, Jamal was released Tuesday afternoon.

Since then, he has been grateful for his time with his family.

“I can take the kids to the park and play soccer with them, maybe some basketball,” he explained. “These little things are what makes life worthwhile.” 

Jamal said after having conversations with his children about the deportation case, they still remain very shocked.

“They find it hard to believe,” he explained. “In the back of their mind, they think, ‘What if it happens again?’” 

Jamal and his wife still face an uncertain future in the country.

Despite being free from custody, Jamal still awaits a decision from the Board of Immigration Appeals on whether his case will be reopened.

In the meantime, he plans to spend as much time with his family.

“Right now, we will take it one step at a time,” he explained. “I have full faith in the judicial system of the United States.”


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