HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Kansas professor whose deportation back to Bangladesh garnered national attention was given a midair, reprieve after a judge granted him another temporary stay.
The charter plane carrying Syed Ahmed Jamal, 55, from El Paso, Texas to Guam stopped to refuel in Hawaii about 2 p.m. Monday. Jamal was ultimately bound for Bangladesh.
Federal agents boarded the flight and removed him, taking him to Honolulu's federal detention center.
The decision is the latest twist in a widely-watched deportation case.
Nearly 100,000 people nationwide have a petition urging the government not to deport Jamal, who is a chemist and adjunct professor in Lawrence, Kansas, where he has lived for three decades.
Jamal was arrested by Immigration Customs Enforcement officers on his front lawn in January while taking his children to school.
"He was on what's called an order of supervision," says Hawaii immigration attorney, Clare Hanusz, who explains that since 2012, Jamal was required to check in with Immigration officials and stay out of trouble.
"ICE recognized he wasn't a danger to society, he wasn't a national security threat, and he had strong humanitarian grounds to stay, in his case, he had a wife and three children."
Hanusz says this was common practice under the Obama administration.
"There was prosecutorial discretion, that was favorably exercised in those kind of cases that would allow people to stay with their families."
Hanusz says that's now changed. She cites the case of Kona coffee farmer, Andres Magana Ortiz, who came to the United States illegally as a teenager. He was deported last year.
"Now under the Trump administration, all of the warm and fuzzy language about humanitarian grounds and equities, ties that people have to their families and their communities, its all off the table. So it's quite black and white."
On Jan. 24, a judge ruled Jamal would be deported. But a federal immigration panel re-issued a stay, allowing Jamal to remain in the country while legal proceedings move forward.
Jamal's lawyer, Rekha Sharma-Crawford, told Kansas media outlets while the temporary stay does make Jamal's situation more hopeful, the fight isn't over.
Crawford filed a motion to have the case heard in Hawaii.