An undocumented Stony Brook University student is being deported back to Bangladesh with her mother this Thursday, according to a letter they received from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement two weeks ago.
Nadia Habib, a 19-year-old psychology major, was brought to the U.S. when she was one year old and did not know about her undocumented status until her senior year in high school.
“Her home is the United States, her community is here, her life and family are all here,” said Sonia Guinansaca of the New York State Youth Leadership Council, which is leading a campaign to stop Habib’s deportation.
Habib has three younger siblings who are all U.S. citizens. Her father, who came to the country years before her mother, has a green card and is not facing deportation.
“Going back to a place she does not even remember is scary and the idea of being separated from her family is even scarier,” Guinansaca said.
The student’s mother, Nazmin Habib, has been seeking asylum for both of them for more than 10 years with no success, according to NYSYLC.
Habib did not return a call for comment, but she told several news organizations this past weekend that she can’t speak Bengali and doesn’t know anyone in Bangladesh.
University officials have been communicating regularly with Habib and are trying to provide her with some assistance, University Spokeswoman Lauren Sheprow said.
In August, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced a new process that would identify low-priority deportation cases in order to let some law-abiding undocumented immigrants earn legal status. Habib would benefit from the new process had her case been already reviewed, according to NYSYLC.
The plan includes DREAM Act students — those who came to the U.S. as children, graduate from a U.S. high school, have good moral character and complete two years of college or military service in good standing.
Habib, who lives on campus, is a junior minoring in biology and art. Guinansaca said Habib has always been an “outstanding student.” She attended Bronx High School of Science before coming to Stony Brook.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement has ordered Habib and her mother to present themselves for deportation at its New York office at 11 a.m. on Sept. 29. NYSLYC is organizing a rally at the site starting at 9 a.m. the same day to protest the pair’s deportation. Habib is spending what could be her last few days in America with her family in Queens, Guinansaca said.
NYSYLC and Stony Brook have contacted several lawmakers, but as of press time, only U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has showed some interest in helping the case, Guinansaca said.
President Barack Obama’s administration has removed more than 1.1 million illegal immigrants from the country so far. In two full terms, George W. Bush removed about 1.6 million, according to data from the DHS website.
“We need to be doing all we can to keep these talented, dedicated, American students here, not wasting increasingly precious resources sending them away to countries they barely remember,” said U.S. Senator Dick Durbin in a press release last month.