Fight to Keep Neighbors From Being Deported Now, Vote for Policy Change in November

Yesterday, local and state legislators, as well as attorneys from the NJ ACLU gathered in Metuchen to celebrate a stay of deportation for three valued members of their community. One of them, Harry Pangamanan, was recently honored by the town of Highland Park for his extensive humanitarian work over the years (watch the video below).

On Friday night, I spent time with Harry Pangamanan, Arthur Jemmy, and Yohanes Tasik at the Reformed Church of Highland Park. They had been living there in sanctuary as ICE seeks to carry out deportation orders against these non-violent, non-criminal Indonesian Christians who had escaped persecution in their native country.

Even though I see them regularly these days as someone who works on civil rights issues as a member of the town council, I had no idea whether it would have been the last time I saw them. And if I feel that way, I can’t imagine how it is for them to live each and every day uncertain about what tomorrow will bring for them and their families. The mental fortitude they display is simply heroic.

And Friday, thanks to the hard work of the ACLU and the Reformed Church’s Rev. Seth Kaper-Dale, we got good news that a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order that prevents the government from executing deportation orders against Pangamanan, as well as Roby Sanger and Gunawan Liem, who were detained on Jan. 25 while dropping off their children at school, despite never having missed check-ins with ICE.

While it’s been reported that those in sanctuary are free to return home, it’s important to note that they can still be detained; they just can’t be deported right now. I don’t know what they will decide to do, but we will support them whatever their decision.

Rounding up community members without notice using years-old removal orders instills fear in our communities and shakes us to our core. Our kids go to school with their kids, we work with them and we pray with them. There’s no question that no matter where you stand on immigration, that what’s happening here is wrong. And when laws are wrong and immoral, they need to change.

In the meantime, we have the courts, which could determine that these individual cases represent a violation of the Fifth Amendment right to due process.

Thanks to the ACLU, our neighbors could have the opportunity to argue their case for asylum as U.S. law prohibits removal of people who would likely face persecution or torture, “a risk that courts have ruled Christians, especially of Chinese descent, would encounter in Indonesia,” according to the ACLU.

As a community, we enact policies on the local level, provide comfort and we try to instill a sense of normalcy for our neighbors, while advocating on their behalf and working with the organizations whose task it is to defend them from injustice.

Then, in November, we vote. We vote for people who will work to change policy.

Here’s the news conference that took place yesterday:


Immigration press conference in Metuchen

Posted by Matthew B. Hersh on Saturday, February 3, 2018

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