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Religion Today Blog Christian Blog and Commentary

Final of Four Christian Refugees Deported to Indonesia

  • Onize Ohikere
    Religious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world
  • 2017 Jun 09
  • Comments

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials on June 5 deported the last of four Indonesian Christians detained last month in New Jersey when they showed up for a routine check-in.

Officials rejected a stay of removal application for Oldy Manopo. Manopo left the country hours after the Rev. Seth Kaper-Dale, who had advocated for the men, rallied with other supporters outside the detention center where Manopo was staying. Manopo previously lived with his daughter’s family and helped take care of his 4-month-old grandson.

“We’ve lost a real gem,” Kaper-Dale told The Record of Bergen County, N.J.

Officials also deported Rovani Wangko and Saul Timisela last week and Arino Massie last month. The four men fled persecution in Indonesia in the 1990s but missed the asylum application deadline. They were able to reach an agreement with ICE to remain in the country as long as they maintained clean records and checked in periodically with immigration officials.

Kaper-Dale said authorities deported Wangko and Timisela without notice to their families, who only received phone calls when the men were in Japan on the way to Indonesia. The pastor called on the immigration office to exercise discretion in how it responds to each case.  Indonesia currently is ranked by Open Doors USA as the 46th most difficult country for Christians to live in, and advocates fear the men could face persecution in the country.

The United States is heightening priority deportations to include immigrants without any prior criminal record. The country saw a 37 percent increase in migrant arrests last month compared to the same time last year. New Jersey’s head of immigration enforcement, John Tsoukaris, said immigrant removals in the state are up by 30 percent.

U.S. Rep Frank Pallone, D-N.J., who introduced a bill to allow immigrants to reopen their asylum cases, said last week the removals are “morally reprehensible.”

“I have been inspired by the groundswell of support for these men, and we will continue to fight until our country has a just and humane immigration policy,” Pallone said in a statement to New Jersey Advance Media. 

 

Photo courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com

Publication date: June 9, 2017