Family finally gets to visit Syed Jamal in jail
One step closer to their father was not close enough Sunday for the children of jailed Syed Ahmed Jamal, who has been held by the U.S. immigration enforcement system for more than a month.
“I really miss my dad,” Jamal’s 12-year-old daughter, Naheen, said after their 30-minute visit inside the Platte County jail. They saw each other in a no-contact visit, separated by glass and connected by a telephone.
“I want my dad to come home so I can talk to him…not awkward and sad,” she said.
Jamal, a Bangladesh-born chemist, was arrested Jan. 24 in the front yard of his Lawrence home, in front of his wife and children, by U.S. Immigration and Enforcement agents for overstaying his visa. He has lived in the U.S. for 30 years and had been regularly reporting to ICE officials.
Jamal is fighting deportation in a case that has drawn worldwide attention as supporters fight to keep the family together.
“I really need my dad back,” 14-year-old son, Taseen, said. “So does my brother and sister. Our community needs him back. He’s contributed so much…He deserves to be a part of it as any of us do.”
The family had hoped last week to visit Jamal in jail. He was sent to Platte County after a month of shuffling between detention centers — once even bound for Bangladesh before an intervening court order had him deplaned in Hawaii and sent back.
But the family and their attorney were unaware of Platte County jail rules that required visitors to arrive a half-hour before the scheduled visit time and last Sunday could only look at him from a distance while he met with the attorney.
This time the family arrived early as required and took turns so that everyone who came — his wife Angela, their three U.S.-born children, and Jamal’s brother, Syed Hussain Jamal — got to speak with him.
“It was surreal,” Hussain Jamal said. “We were right in front of him,” but only able to talk by telephone, looking at each other through the window separating them in the jail’s interview room.
His jailed brother has lost weight but seemed in “OK spirits,” Hussain Jamal said. The hardest part, he said, was watching Ahmed Jamal’s youngest son, 7-year-old Fareed, in tears during the visit.
“He doesn’t understand the whole thing,” Hussain Jamal said. “I hope ICE will come to its senses and unite a family together.”
Ahmed Jamal’s next court hearing is set for March 20, his attorney, Rekha Sharma-Crawford, said. The family has made constant requests for ICE to allow Jamal to be freed while his case is pending, “but it is falling on deaf ears,” the attorney said.