Reproduced from New York City Newsday, Friday, March 12, 2004
by Michael J. Wildes, Mayor, City of Englewood
2-10 N. Van Brunt Street
Englewood , NJ 07631
Calls to Help Girl Stay in U.S.
By Robert Polner
State labor commissioner Linda Angello is catching heat over her agency's refusal to take up the case of a deaf Bangladeshi girl whose family is about to be deported.
Nearly three years ago, Fahmida Ferdousi Saki's father filed for papers that would allow him, his wife and three children to remain in this country pending his eventual request for a green card.
His application was sponsored by his employer, a construction business in the Bronx .
But the Labor Department wrote to the Brooklyn family March 5 that the application can be considered only after June 1, in light of a huge backlog of such requests. The family is scheduled to be deported on April 2 because of an expired visa.
In 1999, Fahmida's parents, Mohammed Jafar Alam, 39, and Ferdous Ara Mitu, 25, took their congenitally deaf daughter to this country and the New York Eye & Ear Infirmary for the insertion of a cochlear implant – a high-tech device that allows the deaf to hear and learn to speak that is not available in Bangladesh .
She still needs training also not available in Bangladesh , to learn how to use the device.
Yesterday, after reading about the family's predicament in Newsday, the girl's surgeon, school and two elected representatives peppered the Labor Department with demands it review Alam's application before the deportation deadline.
Also taking up the girl's case was a high-profile immigration lawyer, Michael Wildes. Wildes last year prevailed on the Department of Homeland Security to grant Kwame James – the Canadian who helped wrestle “shoe bomber” Richard Reid to the floor of a commercial jet in December 2001 – a temporary work and visitor visa.
Wildes, who is the Democratic mayor of Englewood , N.J., said yesterday he is moving to represent the girl's father at no charge, and requested assistance for the family from New York Sen. Charles Schumer.
A spokesman for Schumer said the senator would try to help get the father's case reviewed by the state expeditiously and reopened by the immigration judge, Rep. Major Owens (D-Brooklyn) also called Angello on the girl's behalf, his office said.
Aside from receiving ongoing medical care, Alam's daughter attends St. Francis De Sales School for the Deaf in Crown Heights .
“In our opinion, we support 100 percent that the family be allowed to remain here,” principal Maria Barolillo said yesterday, “and we will do everything to help the family.”
“If Fahmida leaves, the surgery she had, which was extensive, would be in vain. She will regress, with no language, no communication with her family, her peers, or community.”
Christine Burling, a spokeswoman for the state Labor Department, declined to comment.
Paid for by Friends of Michael J. Wildes, Claudia Colbert, Treasurer