A New Haven woman previously under threat of deportation to her native Bangladesh has been granted asylum in the United States, according to her son.
Salma Sikandar came to the U.S. more than 20 years ago on a tourist visa, while her husband, Anwar Mahmud -- also from Bangladesh -- entered the U.S as a political refugee eight years before her. They met in New York City, married, and had a son who is now a sophomore at Quinnipiac University.
Sikandar received a deportation order from Immigration and Customs Enforcement during the summer of 2018, but she’s been fighting to remain with her family. Earlier this year, ICE granted a stay of deportation to allow time for her case to be heard.
Monday’s ruling granting asylum to both Sikandar and her husband follows a July hearing before an immigration judge in Hartford. The family said they learned of the ruling Monday morning via an automatic update to their case online.
After one year with asylee status, both Sikandar and Mahmud will be eligible to apply for green cards, granting lawful permanent status.
Sikandar’s son, Samir Mahmud, told Connecticut Public Radio that the news was astonishing.
“She couldn’t believe it -- she thought it was a practical joke, because it’s been 21-plus years,” he said. “She started crying immediately, which got me to start crying.”
Mahmud said his parents intend to stay engaged with the issue of immigration and deportation.
“They’re going to start fighting for others who are in the same boat as us,” he said. “I guess I can take a deep breath and finally relax and actually focus on what I’m trying to achieve in my life, and help my parents achieve what they want to accomplish.”