A surprising development in the case of a Queens man who was supposed to be deported Monday after living in the U.S. as an undocumented immigrant for 37 years. NY1's Michael Herzenberg first reported on this case last week, and has this follow-up report.
Riaz Talukder woke up in Queens on Monday morning expecting to be deported.
Arriving at Immigration and Customs Enforcement, known as ICE, he said goodbye to his two sons, unsure when or if he would see them again.
"Since last night, I was really nervous," Talukder said. "I don't know what's going on, what's going on with my family. So ... pray for me, everybody."
Talukder was 13 when his uncle brought him to the U.S., but he never obtained citizenship. His case was not a priority under the Obama administration, but President Trump has taken a harder line toward the undocumented, and last month, ICE ordered him to be deported to Bangladesh on Monday.
As his fate was being determined inside ICE's lower Manhattan office, friends and family rallied outside. They said it made no sense to deport a man to a country where he has no close family or friends, leaving his cancer-stricken wife and sons behind in the U.S., where he has lived for 37 years.
"There's no source of income, there's no source of hope. So, not having my dad is the end of the world for me and my brother," said Rafi Talukder, one of Riaz's sons.
But two hours after he walked into ICE's office, he unexpectedly was allowed to leave. Talukder's case was kicked up to a superior, who decided that he could again challenge his status in court.
"Now, I'm going to go to my wife and give her a big hug," Riaz Talukder said as he emerged.
"I'm full of relief about my dad, and I feel so happy, and when he came back to the cafe I just hugged him the tightest I could," said Radi Talukder, Riaz's youngest son.
ICE also said Talukder no longer has to continue checking in with ICE every month; instead, his lawyers have to check-in in six months.
Talukder and his lawyer credit NY1 for highlighting his case last week, publicity which got more politicians involved, including New York's U.S. senators.
"A special thanks — always I'm saying, 'Number 1' — NY1. I know," Riaz Talukder said. "Mr. Mike — my wife said, 'Mike saved your life.' He did. And Mr. Coccia — everybody. But Mr. Mike, he worked like boom, boom, boom, and he connected all people. Thank you, brother. Thank you."
Talukder said he's just happy to return home to his family and go back to his routine — something he didn't think was at all possible when he woke up at the beginning of the day.