Kalamazoo doctor in the U.S. for 40 years detained by I.C.E

KALAMAZOO, Mich. – A Michigan doctor who’s been living in the country for more than 40 years is now in jail after being detained by U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement.

Doctor Lukasz Niec works at Bronson Healthcare in Kalamazoo. His family says he’s been behind bars since Tuesday when I.C.E. agents picked him up from his home. His family says doctor Niec has a green card and permanent legal resident status.

Doctor Niec came to the U.S. when he was a young child, brought over by his parents from Poland in 1979.

His sister Ivona says that in the charging documents I.C.E. delivered this past week shows he has two misdemeanors, one for destruction of property, the other for receiving stolen property. Relatives say one of those was expunged. They believe it’s because of these old charges that immigration officials detained him.

“When I walked into that jail cell and I had to look at him through the glass and talk with him on the phone with him and I just both broke down into tears,” says Ivona Niec-Villaire. “He’s scared and he’s humbled at how everyone has rallied behind him. And the first thing he said to me was I’m sorry I’m putting you through this. And I said you don’t have to be sorry you did nothing wrong.”

Doctor Niec is currently at the Calhoun County Jail. His sister Ivona is recommending anyone with permanent legal resident status to not wait around and to get citizenship as soon as possible.

Relatives are hoping to have a hearing on Niec's situation in early February, but say it could be weeks or even months because a discussion is held.

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    • Quietsch

      So you also see a problem that immigration and customs enforcement can do this without stating a reason? What if there is nothing else and an officer just wants to reach his/her monthly quota?

      • suzy

        Here is the deal. there has to be more to it. im sure they told him the reason why. it does not need to be disclosed to the family. Maybe they were following him in his practice. Could be something fishy.Besides the fact that he had 40 years to apply for citizenship…. its not like he couldnt afford it

        • Micah Patterson

          You don’t get it. You don’t have to be a citizen to work in the US. He was legal. Had a green card. The only thing was decades old charges from his juvenile days. No, there isn’t more to the story. That is it. You want to justify voting for Trump and say “There must be more”. No. There isn’t. Why should he have to apply for citizenship? He has a green card. A legal green card. He’s a legal, lawful, tax paying resident of the United States.

  • learnedmylesson25

    The media likes to make a point that a particular person has been here 20,30,40 years and therefore,because of that,the person should be given leniency.Wrong.All that person did was get away with the crime of being here illegally.You don’t get points for that.

  • lori

    This is becoming a sick joke. A Doctor? last week a Landscaper, both here for over 30 years. And you have the Salvadorians we allowed here 17 years ago and now you want to deport them too. Where does this sick sick country go from here. Dreamers given rights by one President, then another takes those rights away. I am ashamed that this is being allowed to happen. We all come from immigrants, if they have been a productive member of society leave them the hell alone.

    • Not racist, not violent, but no longer silent

      When the needs or wants of illegals, whether dreamers or those crossing the borders become more important than U.S. citizens – then there’s a problem. Like Democrats voting along party lines to shut down the government. Republicans are NOT immune to being party line voters.
      President Trump at least is tackling the “icky” issues that no president, Republican or Democrat wanted to. Like him or not he’s taking on all the real problems we as a nation face.

    • Jay

      One president gave him rights that wasn’t legal for that president to do. Like ALL the other crap that president did it was illegal!

    • Jake

      Most likely it was those two misdemeanors that prevented him from obtaining citizenship through naturalization. Also. he’s been here LEGALLY (to all those who say he’s been here illegally).

    • Too Tired

      Many people don’t bother to become citizens once they have a green card. It is not illegal to stay here as a permanent resident. The concern this case raises is that ICE would detain someone who is here legally. It seems odd.

      • kat

        Given the furor over Trump’s election (and the extreme hyperbole since then), I would think that anyone with a green card would have at least STARTED the citizenship process if they were planning to stay in the US. Especially if that person had EVER been arrested, no matter how minor the charge. I know of several green card holders WITHOUT arrest records who have done so, just to make sure they and their families are safe from this sort of thing. Did this fellow think he was untouchable just because he was a doctor?

    • Kim L

      And you get the award for greatest point! Why do people insist on not going through the processes. No American can just walk into another country and work unchecked for years and years. It would take about a day to be in jail trying to enter another country illegally. Why should our country be an acception?!

      • Greenstone

        First of all, he’s here legally, which was made very clear in the article if you actually read it. Second, Americans can, and often do, work in other countries without becoming citizens of those countries for long periods of time. They are called work visas, and the length of time you can use them and the requirements to do so varies depending on the country. There are also many permanent American citizen residents of other countries who do not become citizens of those countries. They are called ex patriots. The legality of it all depends on each given country’s laws, but they often allow it by following a certain process… Probably a similar process that this doctor has followed to live and work here legally.

  • James Burket

    I truly prefer my illegals to have dark skin and Hispanic or Middle Eastern surnames. Just makes it so much . . . . cleaner. Now we are exporting white people? Not certain how this will play out in Alabama and West Virginia.

  • Bluesmama

    Why isn’t he a citizen? No way he has been here 40 years. He is only in his forties. We are not getting the whole story here.

  • Geraldine

    Tragic but he’s an idiot for not getting his citizenship as soon as he was eligible. You’d think a doctor would be smarter. Also by forfeiting his right to vote, he helped Trump win Michigan. He let his lust for $$$ and tax cuts blind him. Oops!

    • Too Tired

      It may be a poor choice not to pursue citizenship, but saying he is an idiot is name calling. Let’s try to be civil. He is a physician, which would suggest he had to be pretty damn bright to get through med school.

      • kat

        Perhaps not an “idiot”, but definitely a fool. He had the ability to prevent this, he had the financial means to prevent this, and he certainly had plenty of time to prevent this – yet he took no action. So, yeah, “fool” is a good start.

  • Joe

    40 years and just didn’t get around to applying for citizenship? Perhaps he was afraid his record would come out and he would have been deported earlier. That being said, they should confirm if his mother became a citizen before he was 18 which would automatically make him a citizen. If not, good bye.

  • kat

    So, he was brought here as a child, and he has a green card and permanent resident status. He has a family here, and has made a life for himself here. But after 4 decades in the US, he still has not bothered to apply for citizenship. Why? It’s not that difficult. He’s a doctor, so it’s probably not a money issue. He has had at least 20 years (as an adult) to secure his status as a citizen – and therefore avoid ANY problem with immigration officials. But he chose not to bother.

    I can see people thinking this is “unfair” and “tragic”, but come on… part of this is on him, too. His lack of action put him in this vulnerable position in the first place.

    • Greenstone

      THAT’S what you choose to focus on? Whatever the reasons are that he never obtained US citizenship is totally beside the point here. He’s a legal resident. He followed a path that was made available to him to be here and work here legally. That path has not required him to become a citizen. The issue here is the authoritarian over reach of our government, detaining legal residents for deportation processing based on the most petty justification (2 misdemeanors as a minor more than 20 years ago). The issue here is also the inhumanity of it. This guy came here when he was five years old, his family successfully escaping Communist oppression in Poland in 1979, does not even speak Polish, became a doctor, a contributing, tax paying member of our community (again, is a legal resident based on our own system), and he’s sitting in a jail right now wondering if he’s going to be deported because his committed 2 misdemeanors as a teenager??? What the hell are we doing and why the hell to you Rump supporting idiots go along with this crap?

  • Rose

    Fox17 had hidden their link to the other story where it points out he has had 18 encounters with law enforcement since the first 2 in question in the past years. No one I know has had that many speeding tickets, failure to provide proof of insurance, failing to change their address, causing an accident and driving under the influence. You can read all the violations on WOOD.