Thanks to a large social media push, an illegal immigrant from Bangladesh has been granted an immigration waiver from federal authorities.
Riaz Talukder, age 50, has been granted a temporary waiver after a coordinated social media campaign spread about his “plight.” Talukder, who has been living in the US since he was a minor – afoul of the law – is pleading to stay in the country now that it was discovered that his wife has thyroid cancer.
He’ll now be able to stay in the U.S. for another six months before having to run inwith the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) again, according to a press release about the matter. This will give the family a little more time to file court motions to overturn or further delay their deportation order.
Talukder, who does not have any criminal record and is the father of two U.S. citizen sons, has been routinely reporting to the agency for some time. But during a check-in last month, he was told to return to a New York City ICE facility in November with a one-way ticket to Bangladesh.
The cab driver said that he felt extremely worried about his family, particularly his wife, who is now recovering from cancer treatment and will be undergoing another surgery in December.
After receiving the news of Talukder’s situation, groups like the nonprofit DRUM – Desis Rising Up & Moving and the Jackson Heights Immigrant Solidarity Network, kicked off an aggressive, and well-coordinated social media campaign, and collected thousands of signatures on a United We Dream petition that was urging the Department of Homeland Security to let Talukder stay. And during last week, attorney Edward Cuccia had filed a motion to reopen Talukder’s previous asylum case, which would allow him to stay on humanitarian grounds.
Talukder’s immigration struggles began years ago. At one point, he was even detained, two years after a work authorization had expired. Immigration officials had raided his home and the cab driver was sent to the Elizabeth Detention Center in New Jersey, the United We Dream petition had explained.
Talukder ended up being released once again, with the instructions to check in with ICE every year. And under the Obama administration, he was also treated as a low priority for deportation, especially since he did not have any criminal record. However, in the beginning of the year and under the Trump administration, Talukder was ordered to check in more frequently and eventually was told to report to ICE every month until he was threatened with deportation.
“We had a great victory today, but Riaz is just one of millions of people in this country living under the constant threat of deportation,” Lucy Herschel of the Jackson Heights Immigrant Solidarity Network had said during Monday’s press conference. “These are our family and friends, our neighbors, our co-workers. We need to build a mass movement to defend our [illegal immigrant] communities from this attack.”