Deportation would force 19-year-old and mom to leave ‘everything I know’, including dad and siblings

New York Daily News
The New York City Local


Erica Pearson, DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER


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Her suitcase is packed, but a Queens teen facing deportation Thursday spent what could be her last hours in America hoping she doesn't have to go.

"I know it's real," said Nadia Habib, 19, a Stony Brook University junior and Bronx High School of Science grad who came to the U.S. as a baby.

"It's been really hectic and nerve-racking with my family," she said. "The past three weeks I feel like I've had to grow up a lot."

Habib was set to report with her mom, Nazmin, to Federal Plaza by 11 a.m. this morning to be deported to Bangladesh, leaving behind her dad, a green card holder, and her three siblings, who were born here and are U.S. citizens.

"I could be literally leaving everything I know," Habib said. "Leaving would mean being separated from my brothers, my baby sister and my Dad."

She and her mother each can bring just one piece of luggage, weighing only 50 pounds.

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"There's no way I can fit everything," said Habib, who said she just threw in some clothes and shoes - finding it impossible to pack up her whole life to go to a country she never knew. She doesn't even speak Bengali.

"I've always considered myself as American as anyone else," she said.

The family's Woodside home was full of neighborhood friends, trying to calm her mother and praying that the two will be able to stay.

"I have never seen her [my mom] crying so much as in this past week," Habib said.

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For a decade, Habib's mom has been trying to reopen their bid for asylum. But on Sept. 10, the pair got a letter from the feds saying they had to leave.

Their lawyer, Aygul Charles, put in a request on Monday with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to stop the deportation - and asked that Habib and her mother be allowed to stay for humanitarian reasons.

"There has not been an official response," Charles said. "It's coming down to the wire."

The Habibs' case is especially compelling, Charles said, because the feds recently said they would follow new deportation priorities and focus on booting immigrants with criminal records.

Officials are reviewing 300,000 pending deportations and plan to let some law-abiding immigrants with ties to the U.S. stay temporarily and get permission to work.

An ICE spokesman would not comment on the specifics of the Habibs' case but said deportation priority decisions are made on a "case-by-case basis."

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's (D-N.Y.) office has been talking with ICE on the family's behalf, said spokeswoman Angie Hu.

"We expect that ICE will fully and fairly consider the family's request," said Hu.

Just a few days ago, Habib, who is studying psychology and wants to be a drug researcher, was trying to focus on midterms. But during a weekend drive around Stony Brook with friends, she broke down and cried.

"I thought, this could be the last time I see this certain part of sky," she said.

epearson@nydailynews.com

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