KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Since 24 Hour News 8’s first story about the arrest of Dr. Lukasz Niec two weeks ago, the story has gained international attention.
The Bronson Methodist Hospital doctor has become a symbol of how immigration matters are handled in this county.
But for the shy family man, it is not the spotlight he seeks, just a return to normalcy.
After 16 days in the Calhoun County Jail, Niec was released Thursday following a bond hearing in Detroit where a judge heard the government’s case against him that includes a minor criminal record when the doctor was 17, accusations in court by a spouse and a bad driving record. The judge decided it was not enough to hold him in jail pending his hearing on his immigration status.
Now, he is back in his home in a fashionable neighborhood near the lake in Texas Township, near Kalamazoo
But it is not over, Niec faces more hearings to determine if he should be sent to Poland, the country his parents escaped from in 1979 when he was five.
Asked how he thinks he would fare in Poland, the doctor answers with a nervous laugh: “Not very good, it’s hard to not be able to speak (the language).”
Niec said as a permanent Green Card holder and having worked as a hospitalist for 10 years, he never thought about his immigration status until the day last month, when not long after putting his daughter on the school bus, ICE agents took him to jail.
“I honestly thought it was still not real when I got there and when I got booked all the way through that’s when it sunk in,” Niec said. “That’s when I freaked out a little.”
Since that time, the doctor said he has been flooded with support from all over the world. But when it comes to being a symbol, has a different approach.
“I wish I wasn’t,” Niec said.
He said after nearly 40 years, he just thinks of himself as an average American, but what many what to know is why during all that time he didn’t simply become a citizen.