The Slatest

Polish Doctor Living in the U.S. for 40 Years Detained by ICE

Lukasz Niec.
Lukasz Niec.
Bronson Health

A Polish doctor who has lived in the U.S. for nearly four decades has been jailed and faces deportation for two decades-old misdemeanor charges, the Washington Post reports.

Lukasz Niec, who was arrested on Tuesday morning, is a lawful permanent resident who has lived in Michigan since childhood and has an American wife, daughter, and stepdaughter, his sister told the Post. He does not speak Polish and has no family there, she said.

The Department of Homeland Security detained Niec because of charges dating back to 1992, when Niec was a teenager, according to the Post. One involved a fight after a car crash, according to his sister, leaving him with a conviction for malicious destruction of property. The other involved a conviction for receiving and concealing stolen property, which his sister said was expunged from his record.

According to the Post, the Immigration and Nationality Act allows immigrants to be removed for crimes involving “moral turpitude.”

In the past, immigration officials have prioritized the deportation of immigrants with a history of violent crimes. Immigration and Customs Enforcement under the Trump administration, however, has shifted its priorities, sweeping up a broader group that more frequently includes low-level offenders and those without criminal records.

The vast majority—90 percent—of deportations involve Mexicans, Haitians, and Central Americans, according to NPR. Mexicans make up about half of all undocumented immigrants, a slight decrease from previous years offset in part by growing numbers of undocumented immigrants from Central America, according to an April Pew Research Center report.

But immigrants from other countries are facing crackdowns as well, and NPR reported that deportations to the rest of the world increased by 24 percent. In an article detailing some of the shock experienced by Irish communities in Boston over deportations, NPR reported a sense that many were surprised to learn Irish immigrants, a group often thought of to be safe by virtue of its whiteness, would be included in immigration sweeps.

According to the Grand Rapids, Michigan, NBC affiliate station, dozens of doctors and hospital employees have written letters in support of Niec, who specializes in internal medicine. His wife told the Post he was needed at the hospital because of a shortage of doctors during flu season.

He has been detained for nearly a week, and his family does not know when he will see a judge.

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Molly Olmstead

Molly Olmstead is a Slate assistant social media editor.