Protests Follow 3 Indonesian Christians Seeking Asylum in U.S. Being Deported from New Jersey

The Rev. Seth Kaper-Dale, pastor of The Reformed Church of Highland Park and Joel, 13, the son of Arino Massey, an ethnic Chinese Christian man, who was deported to Indonesia on Thursday. (Photo: Suzanne Russell/Staff Photo)
The Rev. Seth Kaper-Dale, pastor of The Reformed Church of Highland Park and Joel, 13, the son of Arino Massey, an ethnic Chinese Christian man, who was deported to Indonesia on Thursday. (Photo: Suzanne Russell/Staff Photo)

The fallout from the arrest of four Indonesian Christians who were seeking asylum in the U.S. continues: three of them have now been deported and the fourth could soon follow.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement deported two of the men this week: Rovani Wangko on Thursday and Saul Timisela on Friday. The third, Arino Massie, was removed two weeks ago. The remaining refugee, Oldy Manopo, learned his “stay of removal” request was denied and could be deported at any time.

The four were among nine Indonesian Christians who took sanctuary at the Reformed Church of Highland Park in 2012 after they were targeted for deportation. The following year, ICE gave all nine men permission to stay in the country as long as they ended their sanctuary and periodically checked in with ICE.

In May, four of them met with ICE for a scheduled check-in and were detained.

“I do not believe it is somehow the will of the divine to desecrate the planet through greedy, war-mongering policies — to participate in the creation of a refugee/asylee/immigrant crisis and then to have our ‘solution’ be to racially and ethnically clean house through hate-crime executive orders,” said Seth Kaper-Dale pastor of the Reformed Church of Highland Park who has advocated on behalf of Indonesian Christians seeking asylum in the U.S.

A spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed Wangko was deported. He said he could not confirm the status of Timisela and Manopo, but ICE’s jail database still lists Manopo in custody.

Like many Indonesian Christians, the nine arrived on tourist or work visas in the 1990s. They overstayed their visas, fearing religious persecution if they returned to the Muslim-majority country. They arrived in the U.S. shortly after the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 took effect, requiring asylum seekers to file their applications within a year of reaching the U.S.

The four who were arrested all applied for asylum past the deadline and were denied, Kaper-Dale said.

The group’s arrests in May sparked the revival of a Congressional bill that would grant extensions to certain Indonesian Christians, allowing them to reopen their asylum cases.

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SOURCE: Steph Solis and Andrew J. Goudsward
Asbury Park Press