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.]]
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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Secret Service Head: Breach Won't Happen Again

Julia Pierson tells a House panel investigating a recent intrusion at the White House: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus 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.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid