NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A family on the verge of being torn apart has received a temporary reprieve.
“Now I feel good,” said Riaz Talukder. “Now I’m going to go to my wife and give her a big hug.”
As CBS2’s Scott Rapoport reported Monday, Talukder, 50, is an undocumented immigrant from Bangladesh who is married with two children. His wife is battling thyroid cancer and is scheduled to have surgery next month.
He has been living in the U.S. since he was 13 years old.
“Not having my dad is the end of the world for me and my brother and my mom,” said Talukder’s 15-year-old son Rafi, who is a student at the prestigious Bronx High School of Science.
Lucy Herschel, of the Jackson Heights Immigrant Solidarity Network, said Talukder has a worker’s permit, a Social Security number and has been living and working legally in the country since the early 1990s.
Herschel said Talukder has been under an order of supervision since 2010 and has to check in regularly with ICE.
When Talukder checked in with ICE last month, he was told to return Monday with his passport and a one-way ticket to Bangladesh in hand.
And indeed Talukder did show up, but with a large group of supporters, elected officials, and his own attorney. He asked ICE to reconsider its deportation.
Talukder’s 11-year-old son, Radi, could not hide his concern either.
“The scariest part is not being part of our family,” Radi said, “because if our dad is not part of our family, it’s like our family is nothing.”
Talukder’s supporters said he is a fine man – never in trouble with the law. They said he is a cab driver and lives with his family in Jamaica, Queens.
Talukder’s attorney, Edward Cuccia said everything was fine as long as his client checked in with ICE – until President Donald Trump’s get-tough policy on undocumented immigrants. Cuccia said the new policy led to Talukder being identified for deportation.
Cuccia said Talukder never applied for American citizenship, because he first needed a green card. Cuccia said further that Talukder tried to obtain a green card many times, but was unsuccessful for a number of reasons.
“Paperwork errors; he’s had prior bad attorneys,” Cuccia said.
In the end, Cuccia said ICE decided to grant Talukder what is essentially a six-month extension.
“ICE, they did the right thing,” Cuccia said. “They have granted us essentially a six-month stay to allow us to continue the processing of motions and other paperwork to attempt to keep Mr. Talukder here inside the United States, where he belongs.”
“We’re at the beginning of a battle, the good news is that ICE has given us the time and the opportunity to fight that battle and we’re going to win,” Cuccia added.
Talukder said he looks forward to having Thanksgiving dinner with his family in Queens.
CBS2’s Rapoport reached out to ICE several times by phone and by email for comment. As of late Monday, no comment had been received.