Shortly after a video of a father bidding goodbye to his family at an airport amidst a forced deportation by ICE went viral, another story about a longtime resident of the United States potentially being forced to return to their country of origin is now emerging. According to The Washington Post, Lukasz Niec, a Polish doctor who has been in the U.S.A. since he was five years old, is currently being detained by immigration authorities, despite having only two minor criminal convictions from decades ago.
Niec had become a lawful permanent resident of the United States in 1989. He was living in the country with a temporary green card before that. He grew up in Michigan and is married with two US-born children. He was brought to America by his parents when he was a child. He does not speak Polish.
Nonetheless, Niec was arrested at his home last Tuesday and is still being detained in a county jail.
“It’s shocking,” said corporate lawyer Iwona Niec Villaire, Lukasz's sister. “No one can really understand what happened here.”
The two convictions Niec faced that led to the arrest pertained to charges from around 26 years ago. Specifically the charges were: malicious destruction of property under $100 and concealing stolen property over $100. The latter had been expunged from his record.
Niec had also pleaded guilty to a charge of operating impaired by liquor, but the conviction was set aside after completing probation. He had been found not guilty in a trial pertaining to a domestic violence charge in 2013.
Niec's family says he was given "a false sense of security" when he was granted a permanent green card.
ICE has not responded to requests for information on the arrest.
WaPo notes that there is a long history of deportations over minor criminal offenses, but previous administrations had encouraged leniency for less serious offenders. The Trump administration has rescinded many of these policies, putting even immigrants with no criminal backgrounds whatsoever at risk for deportation and separation from their families.
After a week in jail, Niec has received no information from immigration authorities on his arrest and is yet to see a judge. The family is hoping Niec receivees pardons from the local governor for his minor crimes.
“I cannot say enough about his work ethic and his service to our community,” said a colleague, Jose Angelo L. De Leon, M.D., in Niec's defense.
“He is needed in the hospital,” his wife said, noting the widespread flu epidemic plaguing her community and the country.
“He can’t be deported,” his wife added, emphasizing that he has no connections to family or friends in Poland. “He wouldn’t know where to go. He would be lost.”
[Photo: Screenshot via CBS]