Jax Hts family spared deportation at 11th hour

Jackson Heights residents Nadia Habib (l.) and her mother Nazmin gave an interview to WCBS-TV the day before they heard the news that they would be able to stay in America for at least another year. They were originally set to be deported back to Bangladesh. AP Photo/WCBS-TV
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Jackson Heights immigration advocates rejoiced after neighborhood residents Nadia and Nazmin Habib, who were set to be deported to Bangladesh, were granted a reprieve last Thursday just as they were scheduled to leave the country.

“At least this is a temporary relief for her and her family,” said Daniella Alulema, core member of the state Youth Leadership Council.

The deportation, which was slated for Sept. 29, would have separated the Habib family. Nadia Habib, who is 20, and her mother Nazmin would have been sent back to their country of birth while her father, Jawad, and Nadia’s three siblings would have been able to stay in America. Jawad Habib has a green card and Nadia Habib’s siblings were born in this country.

Alulema said more than 100 people from the community and immigrant advocacy organizations rallied on behalf of the Habibs at Federal Plaza in Manhattan that day until they received the word that the Habibs would be able to stay in America for at least another year.

“This is a classic case where we can have a positive effect on people’s lives and where they truly deserve justice,” said City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights), whose lawyer, Sebastian Maguire, assisted the Habibs.

The Habibs could not be reached for comment.

The mother and daughter came to America in 1993 to seek political asylum without Jawad Habib when Nadia Habib was almost 2 years old and immediately tried to get legal status, Maguire said. In 2000, Nazmin Habib missed a court date due to an illness.

When Nazmin tried to reopen the case, the judge rejected it, saying he had trouble tracking down one of her medical caretakers. Advocates argue the judge had typed in the caretaker’s license number incorrectly. The mother and daughter have been fighting for re-reviews for years since before they received a deportation order in August.

Maguire said Jawad Habib was allowed in 2010 to remain in the United States because he had been here for more than 10 years, had good moral character and the move back would have been a hardship on the children, who have multiple medical problems. Maguire said the same argument should apply to Nazmin Habib.

“They never tried to deceive the government in any way,” Dromm said. “They were always up front and honest.”

Dromm said Nadia is now an honors student at Stony Brook University.

He described her as “a very bright young woman, someone who would be an asset to this country, as would the whole family.”

Dromm said he hoped the family’s case would be dropped in accordance with President Barack Obama’s directive that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement should focus its efforts on deporting criminals rather than immigrant youth who have grown up in the country.

Fahd Ahmed, of Desis Rising Up and Moving, said this case was an example of what he calls America’s “broken” immigration system and said many other immigrants were in situations similar to Nadia Habib’s.

“I think what it does emphasize for us is that the root causes of the problems will remain,” Ahmed said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4564.

Updated 2:24 pm, October 6, 2011
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