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Bangladeshis worry they’ll pay price for NYC blast

New York police department officers patrol the area around Herald Square on Dec. 12, 2017 in New York. The US unveiled federal terrorism charges against the Bangladeshi driver who detonated a bomb in a New York subway passageway, after allegedly being inspired by the Daesh group. (AFP)
NEW YORK: When an immigrant from Bangladesh set off a bomb in New York City’s subway system this week, he was the only person injured. But New York City’s vibrant Bangladeshi community is worried that it, too, may ultimately get hurt by the attack.
Within hours of the blast, President Donald Trump was assailing the immigration system that had allowed the alleged bomber — and multitudes of law-abiding Bangladeshis — to enter the US.
Akayed Ullah, 27, got an entry visa in 2011 because he had an uncle who was already a US citizen. Trump said allowing foreigners to follow relatives to the US was “incompatible with national security.” He pledged to work toward a system that would give preference instead to people who had wealth or special skills.
That promised policy change struck a sour note with some Bangladeshis in the Brooklyn neighborhood where Ullah lived.
“If Trump is going to stop immigration visas, that’s not good for our Bangladeshi people,” said Fazlul Karim, 45, a livery car driver. “Because some people are waiting for their families — citizens who apply for their wives, children who are missing their father. So if they cannot come here, it’s going to be very sad. We are afraid.”
Kamal Bhuiyan, chairman of the Bangladeshi American Advocacy Group, said it would be unfair to hold the entire community responsible for the actions of one person.
“Those who commit crimes, they do not believe in God and they don’t belong to anybody,” Bhuiyan said. “They don’t belong to Bangladeshis nor anybody else around the world. They are themselves.”
According to the US Census’ 2016 American Community Survey, there are about 90,000 Bangladeshis in New York City, out of a nationwide population of about 234,000. It is a relatively new immigration group. Two thirds of New York’s Bangladeshis arrived in the US after 2000; 38 percent arrived in just the last seven years.