She seems like the last person you'd want to get rid of, but a Bronx Science High School graduate who's now a sophomore at Stony Brook University faced deportation Thursday. It's a case that's got everyone from U.S. senators to city council members to grass roots activists involved.
Demonstrators showed up by the dozens to support Nadia Habib, 19, and mother, Nazmin, and to protest what they called an injustice being done to the young scholar.
"If she were to go, it would be one less person for me to look up to," Nadia Habib's friend Nandanie Dudhnath told PIX11 News.
Nadia was a year-and-a-half when her father, a cab driver with permanent resident status, brought her and her mom here from Bangladesh. Then, 11 years ago, she and her mother had a residency hearing, but her mother got sick and they could not go.
The family says that immigration lawyers over the years did not get them back to a hearing. So the mother and daughter received a letter last month ordering them to be deported on September 29, 2011, unless something changed.
"At this point it would be a miracle," Nadia told PIX11 News as she headed into a hearing for a stay of deportation. Two hours, and hundreds of supporters' phone calls to immigration officials later, she got a temporary stay of deportation.
The dozens of supporters outside the Jacob Javitsz Federal Building where her hearing was held sent up a loud cheer, but Habib does not call her change of fate a miracle.
"No," Habib said, "Because they haven't come to the final decision, so we still have more to do." They, in this case, referred to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, and what they still have to do is wait for a decision on what's called a deferred action, a regulatory procedure that would allow Nadia and her mother to stay in the U.S. for up to a year while they try to get their immigration status fully resolved.
However, one immigration expert says the whole crisis didn't need to happen in the first place. "The children are paying for the sins of the parents," Naresh Gehi, a prominent immigration lawyer told PIX11 News, referring to the fate of illegal immigrants who bring their small children to the U.S., "and we need a fix. The DREAM Act is the fix."
Gehi renewed a call for passage of the measure that's been reintroduced in Congress that would provide temporary legal status for people whose parents brought them illegally to the U.S, no matter what the parent's current immigration status is.
Meanwhile, Nadia turns 20 on Friday, here in the U.S., and not in Bangladesh. PIX11 News asked her if her stay of deportation was a birthday gift.
"It's the biggest birthday gift I could have," the trim, bespectacled young woman with long, black hair replied. "to live here as I normally do."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun