News / Asia

New Jersey Church a Refuge for Indonesians Facing Deportation

New Jersey Church a Refuge for Indonesians Facing Deportationi
|| 0:00:00
X
July 05, 2012 11:21 PM
Since March, a New Jersey church has offered sanctuary to several Indonesian Christians who face immediate deportation. They say they risk persecution in Indonesia, a mainly Muslim country with a secular government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the impasse between the small religious community and U.S. immigration enforcement.]]
TEXT SIZE - +
Carolyn Weaver
HIGHLAND PARK, NEW JERSEY — Since March, a New Jersey church has offered sanctuary to a growing number of Indonesian Christians who face immediate deportation. They say they fear persecution in Indonesia, a mainly Muslim country where the U.N. and human rights groups say violence against religious minorities has flared again in recent years.

Eight men and one woman are now living in the Reformed Church of Highland Park. They sing and pray, work in the church garden and help in the church café. But they cannot leave. They took shelter there after receiving final deportation orders that make them subject to immediate arrest. Several are still wearing ankle monitors placed on them by U.S. immigration officers.

Co-Pastor Seth Kaper-Dale says the church could not refuse to help its Indonesian members, who came to the U.S. more than 10 years ago on tourist visas, fleeing anti-Christian violence.

"From 1996 to 2003, a thousand churches were bombed, burned or destroyed in Indonesia,” he said. “And if you’re ethnic Chinese and Christian like almost all our people in this group, you’re particularly in harm’s way. We have people with stories of horrible traumas, and there are people who are damaged enough that they shouldn’t be going back.”

The Indonesians’ immigration problems began in 2003, when in response to the September 11 terror attacks, the U.S. government created a registration program for non-citizen men from predominantly Muslim nations. The Indonesian Christian men who reported as required, Kaper-Dale said, became subject to fast-track review because they had not applied for asylum within the one-year time limit.

Many had worked, paid taxes and begun families in the United States. Kaper-Dale said their futures are bleak in Indonesia, where deportees from the U.S. are regarded with official suspicion.

“Some face a whole lot of interrogation and then can never rebound from it,” he said. “We have somebody who was deported three and a-half years ago, still doesn’t have work papers or driver’s license. He is an undocumented worker in the land of his birth.”

U.S.-citizen children born before 2006 whose deportee parents take them to Indonesia to live will need to renew their Indonesian visas every two or three months, and will have to do so by traveling to other countries, such as nearby Singapore. However, Kaper-Dale notes that regular foreign travel of any distance is beyond the means of the affected families.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency says it does not conduct routine enforcement at “sensitive locations” such as places of worship, and is reviewing the Indonesian cases individually. Legislation now in the U.S. Congress also could permit the fugitives to re-open their asylum claims.

Nine-year-old Jocelyn Pangemanan, the daughter of one of the men living at the church, has never been to Indonesia. “It’s a hard decision,” she said at a rally at the church. “I can’t leave my mom here, and [I can’t] let my dad go to Indonesia by himself.”

About 30 people attended the rally and a short march through Highland Park’s downtown. A police car promised by the city escorted them. The fugitives marched, too, waving small American flags, confident they would not be arrested during a march for religious freedom.

Then they returned to the church - a sanctuary, they say, that has become a home.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: yafah1 from: US
July 06, 2012 2:02 AM
Is it not hypocrisy to send christian back to a Muslim country where they would be persecuted and yet we keep illegal Mexicans here - we do not dare send them back right? something seems to definitely be wrong !

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid