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EXCLUSIVE: New Haven family’s emotional reaction after learning mother granted a stay of deportation

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HARTFORD  -- A Bangladeshi woman who facing deportation was granted a stay Wednesday.

FOX61 was the only station there as the family got the news.

Salma Sikandar has been in the United States since 1999. She escaped Bangladesh with hopes for a better life. She came to America, but over stayed her visa. Salma, her husband and her son, Samir Mahmud, have been fighting to keep her here since 2011, but an immigration judge has consistently denied her application to be a permanent resident.

Last month, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) ordered her to self-deport back to Bangladesh, a decision the family and their supporters were planning to protest.

In front of the Federal Court House in Hartford, family and supporters started a 43 hour hunger strike to protest the deportation. They had camped out overnight, and medical staff was on site to monitor their health.

During the protest Wednesday, the family received a phone call from their attorney. Samir Mahmud yelled out to the crowd, “The lawyer just said we got granted the stay."

The immediate feeling of hope and relief was palpable when he announced that his mother would not be deported in the morning. A phone call from their lawyer came at the right time.

Samir described what happened:

“We got the call from the lawyer saying that there's something going on in there. And now they told us, confirmed that the probation officer granted this day. So I want to thank ICE, even though we are all on your property making bad news, I want to thank you for looking at us as humans. I know we have been annoying you for the last 23 hours in front of your office, but I want to thank you for keeping my mom with me."

Samir added, "And now I can go back to school shopping, and focus on how to get girls -- focus on how to go celebrate at college, how to have a life, normal life now.”

Samir is going to be a freshman at Quinnipiac University this year, and now looks forward to moving on with his life.

“I’m off to college. I’m going to be a software engineer -- a freshman at Quinnipiac University, and also a minor in political science and fight the fight. I haven't eaten since Monday night. So the first thing I’ll probably eat is probably a Big Mac.”

At this point, the family is unsure how long the stay would last, but vowed to keep working to stay in America.

ICE released the following statement:

I can confirm that Salma Reza Sikandar  was granted a temporary stay of removal today by ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) in Boston which has the discretionary authority to grant temporary stays of removal.

As a reminder:  A stay of removal, when granted, is designed only to provide a temporary relief from removal; it is not a mechanism to permanently stay in the U.S.

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