Thousands of undocumented immigrants whose cases were not considered a priority by the Obama administration have been deported since Donald Trump became President. A Queens man who had been one of those low-priority cases, living here for 37 years, is now days away from being sent out of the country, too, leaving his cancer-stricken wife and two children behind. NY1's Michael Herzenberg has their story:
- UPDATE, 11/20/17: Queens man facing deportation granted six-month discretion
Rafi and Radi Talukder seem like any carefree siblings, home after school.
Rafi, 15, is a student at the prestigious Bronx High School of Science.
Eleven-year-old Radi's grades are just as good.
But now their world is being pulled apart.
"Hearing your mom cry is one thing but hearing your dad cry every day is another thing. He's supposed to be hope he's supposed to be the man of the house and when you see your old man breakdown you don't think there’s anything to hope for," said Rafi Talukder.
Rafi and Radi were born in this country so they're American citizens, but their father is not.
Riaz Talukder says he was 13 years old when his his uncle brought him to the U.S. from Bangladesh.
"I don't remember (,uch about) how I came but I came with boat that's what I remember," said Riaz Talukder.
Riaz and his family live in Jamaica, Queens. He drives a cab for a living.
For a long time, he had no idea he was even in this country illegally.
He figured it out when he was 20, and applied for asylum but botched the paperwork and was rejected.
That put him on the radar of ICE, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which started proceedings against him.
With American children and no criminal record he was not considered a priority for deportation under the Obama administration. He was simply required to check in with ICE every year.
But under President Donald Trump's get-tough approach toward the undocumented, those check-ins became a monthly requirement.
And in July, ICE determined there was "no compelling reason" to exercise discretion in this case. And so when Riaz checked in with ICE last month, agents told him he would be deported on Nov. 20.
"I cannot sleep since October 19th. Anytime they can kick me out. My wife she cannot sleep and she need help," said Riaz Talukder.
His wife, Syeda Akter, is sick, recovering from cancer treatment. She has another surgery scheduled for December.
"Next time I have surgery, who help me?" she asks.
"I don't know whats going on about her," her husband said, choking back tears. "I love you, ma'am. If I don’t see my kids, I break. ... My cancer wife is suffering."
In a statement to NY1, ICE cited the years of immigration proccedings against Riaz Takulder and the order that was issued for his removal. The agency added, "ICE continues to focus its enforcement resources on individuals who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security. However ... ICE does not exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement. All of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States."
But Riaz's attorney, Michael Campise, who is asking ICE to exercise discretion, says it makes no sense to uproot a man who has lived here without incident for 37 years, and send him back to a country where he has no close relatives or friends, and separate him from his family.
"What's the big picture? Are we going to cause more harm in this country by leaving children destitute without thier father by leaving a mother who has cancer without her husband?" Campise said.
Radi Talukder says he cannot imagine what will happen once his dad is deported. "Thinking I’ll lose my dad 'cause I never want to be without him he's always been there for me i just can’t do anything without him."