Oct. 10, 2017 By Tara Law
Two teenage girls from Sunnyside begged President Trump to stop their father’s deportation at a press conference in Jackson Heights this morning.
The girls, Simran Sharif, 18, and Samiha Sharif, 14, are high school students and American citizens. Their father, Bablu Sharif, is a Bangladeshi immigrant who has lived in the United States since 1992.
Bablu, who overstayed his tourist visa, has had a standing deportation order against him since 1999, but since 2013 has had an “Order of Supervision,” which allowed him to gain a work permit and work legally.
In June, when he checked in with the Enforcement or Removal Operations (ERO) office to renew his permit as part of his annual check in, he was immediately detained by ICE.
Bablu, who lives with his family in Sunnyside, does not have a criminal record.
For the Sunnyside family, the press conference was a last resort, said Mazda A. Uddin, an activist who has worked closely with the family and the families of 10 other detainees. Since he was detained, Bablu has been transported by ICE to Louisiana and then to Arizona. Uddin said that the Sharifs have learned from lawyers that there is no other recourse to prevent Bablu’s deportation, and that he could be deported at any time.
The girls are academic strivers; Samiha, who attends Manhattan Hunter Science School, wants to become a lawyer, and Simran, who attends the Academy of Finance and Enterprise in LIC, dreams of becoming a doctor. The press conference took place at Smart Academia, a tutoring center in Jackson Heights where the girls study.
Their mother, Ferdousha, said that it has been particularly difficult for the girls as the school year has started. Samiha began high school this year, and Simran is in her final year of high school and is preparing to apply to college. The girls were brought to tears as they spoke about their father.
“I don’t want to go to school any more because my mom is crying all the time for my father,” Simran said. “I cry also, but I don’t want to cry in front of my sister… I want to study, but no matter how hard I try I cannot because I think all the time about my dad.”
Bablu, an Uber driver, is the family’s breadwinner. Ferdousha, who is also dealing with ICE, has health issues and is a homemaker. The girls worry about what will happen to their family.
“Who will take care of us if our father is deported?” said Samiha. “We are surviving with the help of some friends. Now, if my dad is deported, I don’t know how I’m going to survive. I don’t know how my future will look.”
The family was joined by local activists and Assembly Member Ron Kim, who represents Flushing.
“It doesn’t get any more American than this family. They came to this country in pursuit of a better life, a better future,” said Kim. “All of these immigrants who thought that they could trust the government and step forward, who filed for deferred deportation, are living in fear and they have to go back into the shadows.”