More than 25,000 people have signed a petition to prevent the deportation of a Kansas chemistry professor.

According to his attorney, Syed Jamal legally came to the U.S. from Bangladesh 30 years ago. The father of three and husband is a respected chemist who most recently taught at Park University.

Attorney Jeffrey Y. Bennett said Jamal did initially overstay his visa but in 2012 was granted was called “prosecutorial discretion.”

“It’s not a visa. However, it’s basically an indefinite protection from deportation,” Bennett explained.

The protection can vary based on administration, he added.

For Jamal, it seemingly expired on Jan. 24, when he was arrested in his front yard while getting his kids ready for school. Since then, thousands have signed a petition in his defense and written letters of support.

The president of Park University, where Jamal began teaching in January, plans to write a letter of his own.

“While we have only limited information about the complex issues that apply to Syed’s case, we hope there are options that may allow this husband, father, valued community member, scientist and educator to remain in the United States,”
President Greg Gunderson wrote in a statement.

The university also released information on its hiring process. Each employee must complete and I-9 Form and be run through the government EVerify process.

Jamal himself wrote a letter to immigration officials, telling them he fears for his safety back in Bangladesh due to his status as an ethnic minority in the country. In an emotional letter on the petition page, Jamal’s son wrote, “if my father is deported, my siblings and I may never get to see him again.”

According to Bennett, it’s a possibility made more real considering how long he’d have to wait to return to the U.S.

“At this point if he were deported, he would have to leave and remain outside the country for at least 10 years,”
Bennett said.