Family, friends heart-broken after ICE arrests Kalamazoo, Mich. doctor
KALAMAZOO, Mich. —
It's been four days since Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested a Kalamazoo doctor.
Family, friends and colleagues of Lukasz Niec are working make sure he stays in the United States.
The family is heart-broken with no idea how long Niec will be detained. The 43-year-old immigrated to the U.S. from Poland when he was 3-years-old. He's not a U.S. citizen, but his wife says he holds a permanent green card.
“We need him here, and we’re lonely without him,” Rachelle Burkhart-Niec said.
Burkhart-Niec says her husband was ripped away from their family, when three ICE agents came to their front door Tuesday and took Lukasz away in handcuffs.
“I received a phone call from Luckasz that he had been detained,” Burkhart-Niec said. “I kept saying over and over to stop pranking me.”
The man described as a loving father to his daughter and step-daughter, as well as a well-regarded physician at Bronson Hospital, could possibly face deportation back to Poland.
“He cannot be deported back to Poland; a country he doesn't know; a country he has no family at,” Iwona Niec-Villaire, Niec’s sister, said.
Niec's sister believes the ICE arrest stemmed from a misdemeanor arrest for property damage that he pled guilty to in 1992 at the age of 17.
At the time, the family says he wasn't notified it could be used in a deportation
“Now, they're using this expunged case that's stamped non-public record against him,” Niec-Villaire said.
For the past 15 years, Niec has worked as an internal medicine physician at Bronson Hospital.
“He's a leading physician among the team,” Hussein Akl said. “He helps and supports; he's just one of the better people you can know and connect with.”
Several colleagues wrote letters addressed to an immigration judge in support of Niec.
“It seems like every night we're seeing innocent people being ripped away from their family for some vague immigration laws and a confusing immigration system that hasn't been fixed,” Dr. Michael Raphelson said.
“This is a man who's needed in the community and not detained in Calhoun County Jail,” Niec-Villaire said.
The spokesperson for Bronson Healthcare declined to comment on the matter.
A spokesman for the ICE Detroit field office did not respond to requests for more information.
Niec has an immigration lawyer, but it's unclear when he would face a judge.