US teacher’s deportation postponed mid-flight

Syed Ahmed Jamal with his kids. (Courtesy photo)
Updated 14 February 2018
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US teacher’s deportation postponed mid-flight

CHICAGO: The fate of a foreign-born teacher was in limbo Tuesday after his deportation from the United States was temporarily stopped while his flight was en route to his native Bangladesh.
Syed Ahmed Jamal, a chemistry teacher based in Lawrence, Kansas, was taken off the flight during a layover in Hawaii — the result of a dizzying chain of events that culminated in a last-minute stay of his deportation.
“Not much new development today. Syed is still in the Honolulu Federal Detention Center,” Jamal’s attorney Rekha Sharma-Crawford said Tuesday.
A father of three US citizen children and a beloved member of his community, Jamal’s case has led to a massive outpouring of support from friends, neighbors and critics of US President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.
Jamal, 55, has lived in the United States for 30 years, overstaying his second visa in 2011.
Without a relatively speedy path to citizenship, he had been granted a commonly-employed administrative delay that allowed him to remain in the country and legally work. But immigration authorities could deport him at any time.
He suddenly was arrested three weeks ago while taking his daughter to school.
An immigration judge issued a stay of his deportation last week, but lifted the order Monday. In response, immigration authorities put Jamal on a flight to Bangladesh.
Then, an immigration appeals court granted another stay mid-flight, and Jamal was kept on US soil during a layover in Hawaii.
“We are awaiting an update from his case worker on what the decision is with the new stay in place, if he will be moved or not and, if so, where,” Sharma-Crawford said.
Jamal’s supporters emphasize that he has committed no crimes during the time he has lived in the United States.
They say his case is an example of how the recent US immigration crackdown has swept up law-abiding immigrants, despite Trump’s initial promise that deportations would target dangerous criminals.
“Is the goal to rip a dad apart from the family of US-born citizens?” Jamal’s brother Syed Hussein Jamal asked at a news conference late Monday.
“Any decent human being would not say ‘Yes, that is the right thing to do.’“
Hundreds of people have written letters urging immigration officials to halt Jamal’s deportation. An online fundraising campaign has raised nearly $70,000 and an online petition has gathered almost 100,000 signatures.
Representative Emanuel Cleaver, a Democrat to whom Jamal’s supporters appealed for help, said the case was an example of the country’s “broken and unfair immigration system.”
He pledged to offer a bill that would allow Jamal to stay in the country.
“The system is broken. We need to fix these laws that criminalize hard-working, contributing members of society like Mr.Syed Jamal,” Cleaver said.


Energy wells plugged as Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano sends lava nearby

Updated 9 min 35 sec ago
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Energy wells plugged as Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano sends lava nearby

PAHOA, Hawaii: Production wells at a geothermal plant under threat by lava flowing from Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano have been plugged to prevent toxic gases from seeping out.
Lava from a nearby, new volcanic vent entered, then stalled, on the 815-acre property where the Puna Geothermal Venture wells occupy around 40 acres. Residents have been concerned about hazards if the lava flowed over the plant’s facilities, or if heat generated would interact with various chemicals used on-site.
Ten wells were “quenched,” which cools them with enough cold water to counter the pressure of volcanic steam coming from below, said Hawaii Gov. David Ige. The last well was plugged with mud, because it had remained hot despite the infusion of water. Metal plugs in the wells, which run as deep as 8,000 feet (2,438 meters) underground, are an additional stopgap measure.
“All wells are stable at this point,” said Ige. County officials are also monitoring various gases that may leak into the atmosphere.
A spike in gas levels could prompt a mass evacuation, said Hawaii County Civil Defense Administrator Talmadge Magno. Officials, however, have not discussed specific scenarios that would lead to such an emergency.
Puna Geothermal, owned by Nevada’s Ormat Technologies, was shut down shortly after Kilauea began spewing lava on May 3. The plant harnesses heat and steam from the earth’s core to spin turbines to generate power. A flammable gas called pentane is used as part of the process, though officials earlier this month removed 50,000 gallons (190,000 liters) of the gas from the plant to reduce the chance of explosions.
The plant has capacity to produce 38 megawatts of electricity, providing roughly one-quarter of the Big Island’s daily energy demand.
Lava destroyed a building near the plant late Monday, bringing the total number of structures overtaken in the past several weeks to nearly 50, including dozens of homes. The latest was a warehouse adjacent to the Puna plant, Hawaii County spokeswoman Janet Snyder told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. The building was owned by the state and was used in geothermal research projects in the early days of the site.
Native Hawaiians have long expressed frustration with the plant since it came online in 1989; they say it is built on sacred land. Goddess of fire, Pele, is believed to live on Kilauea volcano, and the plant itself is thought to desecrate her name.
Other residents have voiced concerns over health and safety.
Scientists, however, say the conditions on Kilauea make it a good site for harnessing the earth for renewable energy.
“There’s heat beneath the ground if you dig deep enough everywhere,” said Laura Wisland, a senior analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists. But in some places in the US “it’s just hotter, and you can access the geothermal energy more easily.”
Geothermal energy is also considered a clean resource as it doesn’t generate greenhouse gas emissions, said Bridget Ayling, the director of Nevada’s Great Basin Center for Geothermal Energy.
Ormat said in a May 15 statement that there was a low risk of surface lava making its way to the facility. The company also said there was no damage to the facilities above-ground and that it was continuing to assess the impact. The plant is expected to begin operating “as soon as it is safe to do so,” according to the statement.
The US Geological Survey said sulfur dioxide emissions from the volcano have more than doubled since the current eruption began. Kilauea’s summit is now belching 15,000 tons (13,607 metric tons) of the gas each day up from 6,000 tons (5443 metric tons) daily prior to the May 3 eruption.
Scientists say lava from Kilauea is causing explosions as it enters the ocean, which can look like fireworks. When lava hits the sea and cools, it breaks apart and sends fragments flying into the air, which could land on boats in the water, said US Geological Survey scientist Wendy Stovall.