A New Hyde Park father with an 8-year-old daughter with disabilities and COVID-19 has been frustrated in his effort to avoid deportation when a federal magistrate ruled the court didn’t have jurisdiction to handle the case.
Sukhdev Singh, 47, a married father of three young girls, has been in federal immigration custody in Louisiana since June 8 when agents arrived at his Long Island home as a prelude to sending him back to his ancestral country.
Singh, an immigrant from India, had been in the United States since 1999 when he was ordered removed after his asylum application was denied.
Despite the removal order, immigration officials allowed Singh to remain in the country and work as a cabdriver as long as he periodically checked in with authorities. But in June, he was whisked away by agents, despite the condition of his daughter Ashmeet, who cannot speak, has cerebral palsy and epilepsy and requires feeding through a special tube.
"I begged them please don’t take my husband," Singh’s wife, Rajwinder, recalled in a July interview.
Attorneys with the Manhattan law firm of Pollack, Pollack, Isaac & DeCicco had filed a request with the federal court's Western district in Louisiana to prevent Singh’s deportation.
But on Nov. 17, Magistrate Judge Joseph L. Perez-Montes determined that the district court didn’t have jurisdiction under federal immigration laws to handle the case and recommended the district court judge lift the order temporarily stopping Singh’s removal from the U.S.
Attorneys for Singh said they are planning to try and reverse the magistrate’s ruling in federal court.
But the battle over Singh’s immigration problems suddenly has been overshawdowed by his daughter's health, his attorneys and relatives said. The child, who requires constant bedside care, came down with the coronavirus and pneumonia over the weekend, according to Singh's immigration attorney Allen Kaye.
On Saturday, Ashmeet was brought to Long island Jewish Hospital Pediatric Unit, said Singh’s sister-in-law Kamljeet Kaur of Ozone Park. "She had a high fever and was vomiting," said Kaur, whose sister Rajwinder is married to Singh.
"She is feeling a little better," Kaur said Monday of her niece. Kaur explained that Ashmeet’s mother has had to stay in the intensive care unit with her child. Singh’s two other younger daughters were also showing signs of the illness, said Kaur.
"How they are surviving this is completely miraculous," said mental health professional Carla Alvarez-Gould who works with the family and has kept records of the impact of the absence of Singh on his wife and children.
Singh has been able to speak by telephone almost every day with his family while in immigration custody. "When she hears his voice she laughs, she smiles," said Kaur.