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ICE Deports Practicing Doctor During Flu Epidemic

2018-01-26

Dr. Lukasz Niec, working in a Michigan hospital during a flu epidemic that is still ongoing, holds a valid green card (he’s still a citizen of Poland) and has been in the US for forty years since his father brought him legally into the country as a child.  He was convicted of a misdemeanor as a teenager that involved “moral turpitude” (whatever that is) but has been practicing medicine for the last ten years without a hitch.  He was abruptly detained, incommunicado, by ICE agents on his first day off after a week of double shifts.  His crime, according to ICE?  He was convicted of two offenses 26 years ago as a teenager: receiving stolen goods and destruction of property worth less than $100; one crime was “erased” from his record– but these crimes involve “moral turpitude” and are reason enough to deport him.  The real reason for his arrest?  He has had 18 contacts with the police over the past few years, all involving traffic violations such as not having proof of insurance, not changing the address on his license, and parking near a fire hydrant.  His worst offense?  Driving drunk (“under the influence” in 2008, for which he served probation for a year, and for which the court “set aside” his conviction.  ICE officers claimed that he “came under scrutiny” because of these mostly trivial violations of traffic laws.  His employer, Bronson Healthcare, has appealed for his release, noted his service to the community as a physician, and argued that they need him back at work.

It appears that this man is a target for law enforcement officers who apparently have a vendetta against him; perhaps it is related to his ex-fiancee, who has a child with him and is trying to prevent  him seeing her.  She charged him with child abuse last summer because of a bruise which she claimed was a bite mark; the case was dismissed because the bruise didn’t look like a bite mark and it was unknown who caused it or when it was suffered.

In addition to these complications, the judgement of “moral turpitude” seems arbitrary.  If something is against the law, doesn’t that automatically imply “moral turpitude”?  Or is it only for “moral” crimes?

PS The fact that this man came to the attention of ICE because of numerous contacts with the law, none of which have resulted in convictions in the past ten years, highlights the trick that law-enforcement personnel play on people who are arrested, then found not guilty: they keep a record of the arrests and act as if the arrest alone is enough to taint a person with law-breaking.  After all, if he was arrested, he must have been guilty of something– right?  It’s always guilty until proven innocent.

People who have been detained, even when they are released following a hearing, have their DACA status removed even though they were actually detained by mistake: this happened to Daniel Ramirez, who was picked up at the same time when ICE agents came to arrest his father (their original target.)  Agents claimed that the fact that he had a tattoo on his arm showed he was a gang member.  Even though his lawyer, Luis Cortes, disproved this to the satisfaction of an immigration judge and Ramirez was released after a month in custody, he was left without DACA protection and lost his job.  (This information comes from an article in “The New Yorker.”)

(The reports about Niec came  from an article , one of several  on the case in “Michigan Live” by unknown authors since Dr. Niec was taken away on January 16; national newspapers have picked up the story.  Interestingly, numerous comments on the Michigan Live story were submitted by people who seem to have a vendetta against him, inflated the child abuse allegations from dismissed to convicted, and consider his traffic offenses to be sufficient reason to deport him.)

(The picture, by Mohamed Hassan, comes courtesy of pixabay.com) 

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