Michigan hospital fights for release of detained Polish physician: 7 things to know

Bronson Healthcare, a four-hospital system in Kalamazoo, Mich., is advocating for the release of one of its physicians, who was detained and jailed by federal immigration officials last week, M Live reports.

Here are seven things to know about the case.

1. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested and jailed Lucasz Niec, MD, Jan. 16. Dr. Niec maintains a permanent green card and has lived in the U.S. for almost 40 years, according to the report.

2. Dr. Niec's wife, Rachelle Niec, RN, a nurse with Bronson Healthcare, said she believes the arrest stemmed from two unrelated misdemeanor convictions Dr. Niec received when he was in high school. The misdemeanor crimes involved the destruction of property less than $100 and the receipt of stolen property. Ms. Niec said the most recent conviction was in 1992, according to the report. She said ICE agents have not been in touch with her since Dr. Niec's arrest last week, M Live reports.

3. Court records obtained by M Live show Dr. Niec was charged with domestic violence in 2013, but a jury found him not guilty. His record also reportedly includes traffic violations for speeding and careless driving.

4. A spokesperson for ICE told M Live Friday the department was looking into the case. In response to a follow-up request for information Monday, an ICE spokesperson told the publication via email, "All of ICE's public affairs officers are out of the office for the duration of the government shutdown. We are unable to respond to media queries during this period because we are prohibited by law from working."

5. Ms. Niec said she's received at least 30 letters of support for Dr. Niec from various members of the medical community as of Monday, and has also garnered support from the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Chicago.

6. A hearing on Dr. Niec's case is expected to take place in February, though the family's attorney is working to move up the date of the hearing and is attempting to file paperwork to grant Dr. Niec U.S. citizenship, according to the report.

7. In a statement to Becker's Hospital Review Jan. 23, Bronson Healthcare said, "We are following the situation surrounding the detention of Dr. Lukasz Niec closely and are doing everything we can to advocate for Dr. Niec. We have been in contact with our elected representatives and we have our immigration counsel coordinating with Dr. Niec's attorney to explore all options to secure his prompt release from detention."

The statement continued: "Since 2007, Dr. Niec has been a skilled and caring physician, a valued employee and respected member of the Bronson medical staff. His detention in a county jail while awaiting deportation proceedings simply does not make sense. Given all that he has contributed in the form of exemplary patient care, and Bronson's ongoing need for Dr. Niec's continued service as a hospitalist, we are requesting the community's best interest be considered and he be allowed to return to work and his family as soon as possible."

To read the full M Live report, click here.

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