Hundreds of immigration activists, clergy members and others participate in a protest against President Donald Trump's immigration policies in front of the Federal Building in New York City, Jan. 11, 2018 . Getty Images

Chemistry academic Syed Ahmed Jamal, who’s lived in the United States for three decades and faced deportation to Bangladesh, was granted a temporary stay of removal, his lawyer said Thursday. However, it did not mean that Jamal was allowed to stay in the U.S.

During a news conference attended by Jamal's wife, brother and three children, attorney Rekha Sharma-Crawford answered as to why the 55-year-old isn't a U.S. citizen and "why didn't he just get legal?"

Crawford said while some immigrants succeed in getting a U.S. citizenship, the immigration process isn't as easy as people think.

"That is not a reality. That is not a thing. It doesn't happen like that. It's not like a lottery ticket you buy. In this instance, what the facts do reveal is that he did in fact try to use the process in place, tried to use the mechanisms in place but was not perfect in getting those done. The minute you become imperfect in doing that, you've kind of changed the ability of.. you've damaged the future of how you can now use the process," she said.

Jamal was arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials at his home in Lawrence, Kansas, on Jan. 24. According to his brother, Jamal was about to take his daughter to school when he was arrested in the front of his house.

On Wednesday, Federal Judge Glen Baker, of the Kansas City Immigration Court, issued the stay and gave the Department of Homeland Security until Feb. 15 to respond to an emergency motion to stay the deportation and re-open immigration proceedings, Crawford said.

Crawford said Jamal, who is currently in El Paso, Texas, could be deported immediately — without time for an appeal — if Baker rules against him. If a longer stay is granted, Jamal will address his legal status in the immigration court, his brother, Syed Hussein Jamal, said.

"Basically from here, we're going to fight in court," Syed Hussein said during the news conference Thursday, the Kansas City Star reported. "We'll see how it goes."

It was unclear why the Lawrence resident was transferred by Immigration and Customs Enforcement from Morgan County, Missouri, to Platte County, Missouri, and then to El Paso in one day but Sharma-Crawford said she suspects ICE intended to put him on a flight to Bangladesh without seeing his family again.

Jamal's arrest prompted a backlash, with an online petition drawing more than 58,000 signatures in hopes to prevent him from being deported. The petition reads: "Mr. Syed Ahmed Jamal, a well-respected scientist and community leader, was arrested by ICE — on his front lawn, in front of his children. Now he’s at risk of being deported to Bangladesh, where he is an ethnic minority and would be in serious danger."

A GoFundMe campaign also raised more than $37,000 in less than a week. Hundreds of sympathizers also contacted members of Congress. U.S. Kansas Republican Reps. Kevin Yoder and Lynn Jenkins, as well as Democrat Rep. Emanuel Cleaverfrom Missouri, contacted immigration authorities to discuss the case.

ICE said Jamal came to the agency’s attention when he was arrested on misdemeanor criminal charges in Kansas in September 2012.

According to reports, Jamal tried as hard as possible to obtain U.S citizenship for decades and first entered the country in 1987 on an international student visa. His three children are all U.S. citizens. However, his wife is not a citizen of the country and might face a similar fate.