ELIZABETH — Student supporters of a teacher being detained by ICE for return to his native country of Egypt — where he faces the death penalty — are continuing their support of his efforts to stay in the United States.

Ahmed Abdelbasit is a high school physics teacher at Rising Star Academy in Union City a father, and a community activist, according to the website SaveBasit.com. He came to the United States in June, 2016 seeking political asylum after organizing protests against the removal by the military of former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsey.

The president of Cairo University referred Abdelbasit to the Egyptian government for investigation in 2013, the site says. A year later he was expelled from the school for encouraging the protests, the site says.

According to SaveBasit.com, he has not seen his wife and two children in two years since he came to the U.S.

Abdelbasit was sentenced to death in absentia by a military court in Egypt in May 2016. NorthJersey.com reports he was already in Quatar when the sentence was handed down, and he later came to America.

"Denying Ahmed's asylum and deporting him is sending an innocent man to his imminent death," an online petition reads.

According to the site, he is being held at the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in Elizabeth after being arrested on April 5 in front of his home. Students held a silent rally on Saturday in front of the ICE detention center, according to NorthJersey.com.

"He’s being detained on immigration violations," Emilio Dabul, spokesman for the Newark office of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement told New Jersey 101.5. He would not disclose further information about his case.

The Huffington Post reports Abdelbasit first got a notice in the mail earlier this month saying his asylum case was being transferred to immigration courts.

"On that Thursday morning, seven plainclothes ICE officers demanded that Abdelbasit get into an unmarked car. Confused, the physics teacher complied, all while frantically texting his friends and co-workers to let them know he would not be in class that day at a private Islamic school in Union City," the report reads.

Anwen Hughes, Abdelbasit’s lawyer and the deputy legal director at Human Rights First, told HuffPost.com that it was "unclear" why his client was detained.

According to Hughes, a visitor's visa Abdelbasit received in 2016 expired but he was allowed to stay on the job because his application for asylum was still pending, the report said. Abdelbasit was told to expect an answer by mail after his interview in April 2017, he said.

Abdelbasit's immigration hearing is scheduled for May 10, Hughes told the site.

Hughes has not yet returned a message from New Jersey 101.5.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

More From New Jersey 101.5 FM