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Feb 14, 2:06 PM EST

Dad fighting deportation headed back to Kansas City area



KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- A Kansas father fighting efforts by the U.S. to deport him to Bangladesh was being returned Wednesday from Honolulu to the Kansas City area, even as local members of Congress push legislation that would make him and his wife lawful permanent residents.

U.S. immigration officials put Syed Ahmed Jamal, 55, on a plane bound for his native country Monday before an immigration panel granted a temporary stay in the case. He was taken off the flight when it stopped to refuel in Honolulu, said Rekha Sharma-Crawford, one of his attorneys. She said on Facebook that he was returning to the Kansas City area Wednesday afternoon.

Family spokesman Alan Anderson said the hope is that Jamal will be allowed to stay with his wife, 44-year-old Angela Jamal, and three children in Lawrence, Kansas, under an "order of supervision" while the family fights the matter in the courts, which could take months.

Jamal's return came one day after Republican U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, whose district includes Lawrence, introduced a bill that would provide for the "relief" of Jamal and his wife, whose legal name is Zaynaub Jahan Chowdhury. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, a Democrat from Missouri who has also taken up Jamal's case, helped draft the bill and "fully supports" it, said spokeswoman Heather Frierson.

Jenkins said in a statement that she is "hopeful that an appropriate solution can be reached for a man who has spent 30 years here and is well respected and valued in the Lawrence community."

Jamal, who has worked as an adjunct professor and researcher at Kansas City-area colleges, has been battling his deportation since Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested him Jan. 24 at his family's home.

Jamal entered the U.S. legally in 1987 to attend the University of Kansas but overstayed his visa while pursuing a doctorate. He was ordered deported in 2011 but had been allowed to stay in the U.S. and check in regularly with immigration authorities. Sharma-Crawford said Jamal has a work permit that is valid until October and that he was trying to work within what she calls a complicated immigration system.

His wife, who also is from Bangladesh, came to the U.S. in 2002, and there also was an order for her removal several years ago, Frierson said. The couple's children are U.S. citizens.

Cases such as Jamal's have been on the rise. Shortly after taking office last year, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that widened the categories of immigrants in the U.S. illegally who could face deportation. The number of arrests by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement surged almost 40 percent from the time of Trump's inauguration to the end of September, compared with the same time period the year before. ICE has also detained or deported people who had received reprieves from the agency during the Obama administration.

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Associated Press writer Margaret Stafford contributed to this report.

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