Immigration officials are not saying much about the arrest last week of a Polish-born Michigan doctor who entered the U.S. legally almost 40 years ago.
Relying exclusively on a written statement, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Dr. Lukasz Niec could be deported because of two 25-year-old misdemeanor convictions for property crimes Niec committed when he was a teen. One was for malicious destruction of property, and the other for receiving stolen property.
According to the statement, these were crimes involving "moral turpitude," and a lawful, permanent resident can be deported after conviction of two or more such crimes, regardless of how long they've been in the U.S.
ICE also said Niec recently came under scrutiny because of 18 so-called "encounters" with local law enforcement. ICE declined to comment when asked the nature of the encounters, or when or where they took place, citing "privacy reasons."
Niec is in the Calhoun County jail awaiting a February 7 bond hearing, according to Russell Abrutyn, Niec's lawyer.
"He's doing about as well as anyone would expect, which is not well at all," said Abrutyn. "He's been separated from his family. He's mixed in with common criminals. And he's unable to get back to work serving his patients in Southwest Michigan."
Abrutyn said Niec came to the U.S. when he was five years old, has no ties to Poland, and is a legal permanent U.S. resident.
"We're hopeful that when all the facts are out, the judge and ICE will see the case the same way that we do," said Abrutyn, "That Dr. Niec's mistakes occurred a very long time ago when he was just 17 and that everything that he's done since then and the hardship that his family would suffer if he's deported to Poland, all outweigh those convictions."