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‘Daddy’s Little Sunshine’

TimesLedger Newspapers

In most cases U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement doesn’t send a warning because the people it deals with are inclined to run. The officers show up at a person’s home or place of work and within minutes the individual is handcuffed and taken away. Once they are taken to an ICE facility, it might be days before they can make a phone call to family or friends.

Mohammad Anwarul Islam has lived in America since 1999. He and his wife have three children. His wife will become a citizen soon and his 5-year-old and twin 20-month-old daughters are already citizens by birth.

Without warning, ICE came to Islam’s apartment Feb. 10 with a final order of deportation.

Islam has been helping others with immigration problems and had a state driver’s license. He was first taken to the ICE office at Manhattan’s Federal Plaza. Later he was moved to two different ICE facilities in Newark. For two days he was not allowed to contact his family.

Although there is pressure on the administration to get tough on illegal immigration, the handling of Islam’s case was inexcusable. There is much debate over whether or not alleged illegal immigrants are entitled to the same rights enjoyed by American citizens placed under arrest, but there is no justification for not showing the immigrants human decency.

ICE had every right to tell Islam to get his paperwork in order. At the same time, weight should have been given to the fact that his three children are already Americans and his wife is about to take her oath. ICE should not be in the business of breaking up families unless there is a compelling reason.

Islam was freed March 23. When he got home, his little girls had been given shirts by their mother reading, “Daddy’s Little Sunshine.”

Islam is fortunate that some powerful people came to his defense. U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley and City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer all appealed on his behalf.

It’s unfortunate it took political muscle to make ICE see that dragging this man out of his home and away from his wife and children had nothing to do with improved immigration enforcement.

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