Patients Rally Around Rural Doctor Shut Down By INS - - The News for South Mississippi

Patients Rally Around Rural Doctor Shut Down By INS

Residents in two South Mississippi counties are rallying behind a local physician recently forced out of business.

The Immigration and Naturalization Service ordered Dr. Shailendra Prasad, a native of India, to stop practicing three weeks ago after they said there was a problem with the paper work that allows him to practice in the United States.

Since then, the family practitioner's patients have launched a major campaign to get him reopened.

Dr. Prasad usually sees between 25 and 30 patients a day. But his office has sat empty since April 18th.

"It was unreal," Dr. Prasad said. "They came here in the morning and picked me up my office staff was surprised and stunned. They essentially booked me, finger printing me, taking my photograph and all that. Once they were done with that, they told me I could leave. But I didn't have a way to get back to Picayune from Jackson."

Dr. Prasad says INS agents told him it was not a criminal matter but a procedural one. He says they told him there was a problem with his U.S. work visa. But the doctor says his immigration attorneys say his paper work is in order.

"INS has told me I need to go in front of an immigration judge," Dr. Prasad said.

The trouble is no one has told him when he'll get a hearing date. Meanwhile, many of his patients are circulating petitions and have already gotten hundreds of signatures. They've set up a legal defense fund account for him at First National Bank in Picayune, as well as started a writing campaign to Sen. Trent Lott's office asking him to intervene. They've even had bumper stickers made supporting the doctor.

"He has done great work in our community, both in Pearl River and Hancock County," Melissa Moran, an area social worker, said. "Many people depend on him. He has saved many lives, and it will be a loss to us if we lose his expertise in this area."

"I can speak personally, I wouldn't use anybody but him, and I just hope and pray to God that no one passes while he's not able to practice because there's a lot of us depending on him," patient Kathy Eubanks said.

"I knew that some of my patients did like me, but the outpouring of public support has been fantastic," Dr. Prasad said.

The doctor says he hopes get back to get back to work soon. INS officials would only say his case is being reviewed. Meanwhile his patients have several fund raisers planned to help Dr. Prasad with his legal expenses.

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