A Kalamazoo, MI, a 47-year-old doctor who entered the U.S. legally 38 years ago is now in jail facing deportation for two misdemeanors committed when he was a teenager, according to the Chicago Tribune.
He arrived in 1979 at age 5 with his family from Poland. Lukasz Niec received a temporary green card and, in 1989, became a lawful permanent resident. He grew up in Michigan, went to medical school, became a doctor, and raised a daughter and stepdaughter. He doesn’t speak Polish. He is a permanent legal resident and never got around to taking out citizenship.
On January 16, immigration authorities arrested Niec at his home, just after he had sent his 12-year-old stepdaughter off to school. According to his “notice to appear” from the Department of Homeland Security,
Niec’s detention stems from two misdemeanor convictions from 26 years ago. In January 1992, at age 18, Niec was convicted of malicious destruction of property under $100. In April of that year, he was convicted of receiving and concealing stolen property over $100 and a financial transaction device.
Because Niec was convicted of two crimes involving “moral turpitude,” stemming from two separate incidents, he is subject to removal, immigration authorities wrote in the notice to appear, citing the Immigration and Nationality Act.
A memo from the Obama administration in 2011 directed immigration officials to look at a number of factors, such as familial relationships with U.S. citizens, criminal history, education and contributions to the community, in deciding whether arrests and prosecution are warranted.
But the Trump administration has issued sweeping new guidelines expanding the range of immigrants that count as high priority for deportation, including low-level offenders, and those with no criminal record – regardless of how long they have lived in the country.
“He can’t be deported,” his wife said. “He can’t speak Polish. He wouldn’t know where to go. He would be lost.”