A Bangladeshi national who lives in Sunnyside with his three young children is being held in a detention center in New Jersey, even though his wife is an oath away from becoming a citizen.
“It is the end of the world,” said Lipiara Begum, whose husband Mohammad Anwarul Islam was arrested Feb. 10. “I do not like to know anything, because I want my husband back.”
Begum, a permanent resident, has been relying on the help of her family friends ever since Islam was arrested and taken to the Essex County Correctional Facility in Newark. She and Islam have three children who were born in the United States: 5-year-old Afnan Fazia and 19-month-old twins Afrina Anwar Farah and Afsa Anwar Zarah, who were born premature and have medical problems.
Begum said caring for her children has made it difficult to even visit her husband.
“I don’t know how I’ll go and who will take me,” Begum said.
Mohammad Rashid, a community activist who has taken up Begum and Islam’s cause, said Islam came to the United States Sept. 9, 1991, because the political party he belonged to in Bangladesh had fallen out of favor. He requested political asylum in 2010, but it was denied and not followed up properly.
Meanwhile, Begum passed her citizenship test April 7, 2011, and will soon be taking her oath to become a full citizen.
“If his wife would become a citizen, he would not have any problems,” said Moin Choudhury, a friend of the family.
Rashid said Islam, who used to work in a restaurant and has been doing odd jobs since then, is the sole source of income for the family of five. He said Islam has no criminal history.
“We don’t understand why they picked him up,” Choudhury said, referring to the Obama administration’s policy of showing leniency in the cases of undocumented immigrants with no prior criminal records.
Since their father was arrested, the appetites of their children have gone down, and Afnan has been talking much less, Rashid said.
“She used to ask her dad everything,” he said.
Choudhury said they are planning to collect petitions for a motion to stay so Islam can be released and Begum can take her oath.
“It’s a matter of time only,” he said.
Begun’s allies have also been in contact with the offices of City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), who alerted Rashid to the case, and U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights).
Rashid said Islam and Begum would not be able to go back because the current government in Bangladesh does not want him and the weather would not be good for the twins.
“They have no one back in the country,” Rashid said.
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cn
©2012 Community News Group
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