A Polish-born doctor in Michigan who has been a resident of the United States for 40 years was arrested and detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agencies last week and could face deportation.
Lukasz Niec, 43, is an internal medicine doctor for Bronson Healthcare Group in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He received his green card and has been a permanent resident of the United States since 1989. Niec immigrated from Poland to the United States in 1979 when he was three years old.
According to the Washington Post, Niec was arrested at his home because of two misdemeanor convictions from the early 1990s when he was a teenager. In January 1992 Niec was convicted of malicious destruction of property under $100 because of an altercation between him and his sister. The other conviction was for receiving and concealing stolen property over $100 with a financial transaction device months later in April. According to his sister, the second conviction was removed from his record because he made a guilty plea through the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act — an act created to help youth offenders avoid criminal convictions.
According to his wife, Rachelle Burkart-Niec, Lukasz Niec was arrested on his day off after working for a week straight, which included several double shifts. She told local news Mlive.com she thought it was a joke when she received a call from her husband telling her he was in jail.
“I initially thought it was a prank,” she said. “I didn’t think this could happen to us.”
Aside from the convictions from when he was 17, in 2008 Niec pleaded guilty to operating while by liquor, which is considered a misdemeanor in Michigan. After completing probation, the case was dismissed.
Niec has been in jail for nearly a week and hasn’t seen a judge. His family hasn’t been updated about Niec’s status since his arrest, the Washington Post reports.
“He’s taken care of the people of the U.S. as a physician, he’s taken care of the people of this community, this state,” Burkart-Niec said to Mlive. “After all this time, when is somebody finally free,” she added.
Some of his hospital colleagues have written letters to the immigration judge to vouch for his character.
“The consensus about his character is overwhelming with no single complaint I have ever heard from anyone over 10 years,” Kwsai Al-Rahhal, M.D. wrote in the letter, according to MLive.
“He is loving, caring and respectful. I have seen how he treats my own family and my kids love ‘uncle Lucas.’ I truly hope you give him the chance to know him,” Al-Rahhal wrote.
While it’s unclear how long Niec will remain in jail, his wife and colleagues are hoping an attorney sorts everything out.