A respected doctor who has been in the United States for nearly 40 years has been picked up by American immigration agents after the Trump administration denied his attempt to renew his green card.
Lukas Niec, an internal medicine doctor known for long hours at the hospital in Kalamazoo, Michigan, was picked up by Immigration and Customs enforcement agents over the weekend.
He’s now reportedly sitting in a jail cell waiting for word on when he’ll be allowed to return to his normal life — or if he’ll allowed to do so at all.
Mr Niec, an internal medicine doctor at Kalamazoo’s Bronson Methodist Hospital, moved to the United States nearly 40 years ago when he was five years old. His parents brought him from Poland in 1979, alongside his sister, who said that they had packed just two suitcases before making the journey.
“In 1979, my parents were both doctors, left Poland, and took two suitcases and two small children — my brother was five, and I was six, and they came here for a better life for their kids,” Iwona Niec-Villaire, Mr Niec’s sister, told a local reporter.
But now Mr Niec is facing potential deportation after living here for the vast majority of his life.
“He doesn’t even speak Polish,” Ms Niec-Villaire, who is now an attorney, said.
The arrest was made Tuesday while Mr Niec was enjoying a day off with his daughters at a lake home he owns near Kalamazoo. Three Immigration and Customs agents entered the home and took him into custody.
“While Bronson Healthcare, like others, respects the laws and regulations concerning United States immigration, we are following the situation surrounding the detention of Dr. Lukasz Niec closely and are doing everything we can to advocate for Dr. Niec,” the hospital where he works wrote in a statement Monday. “We have been in contact with our elected representatives and we have our immigration counsel coordinating with Dr. Niec’s attorney to explore all options to secure his prompt release from detention.”
The Trump administration has overseen a spike in immigrant arrests over the past year, and US immigration services say that the priority for arrests and raids made is to target individuals with criminal or dangerous histories. While arrests have been elevated, there have been fewer over all deportations since President Donald Trump took office.
ICE did not respond to a request for comment about Mr Niec’s case, and for clarification on how his history qualified him as a target for the agency.