12.15.2011

legislation could help indonesians facing deportation to stay

In New Jersey, federal lawmakers are trying to push through legislation that will help a group of Indonesian immigrants stay in the United States: Indonesians in NJ fear deportation despite deal.

Two years ago, a community of Indonesians in central New Jersey was spared deportation after a pastor brokered an agreement with immigration authorities that allowed them to stay in the country temporarily. But now they're facing a renewed threat of deportation.

The Indonesian Family Refugee Protection Act, co-sponsored by U.S. Reps. Carolyn Maloney of New York and Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey, would allow Indonesians who fled religious persecution in their homeland and meet other criteria the opportunity to reapply for asylum:
The Rev. Seth Kaper-Dale of The Reformed Church in Highland Park said more than 70 Indonesian immigrants in the central New Jersey community have received deportation warning letters from the Department of Homeland Security in recent months or have been told to report to local ICE offices and bring a one-way ticket to Indonesia with them.

Kaper-Dale said that in addition to the New Jersey community, clusters of Indonesian immigrants in New York and New Hampshire have been living in the same legal limbo for years.

The affected group consists mostly of Indonesian Christians who fled economic instability and religious persecution in Indonesia — the world's most populous Muslim country — in the late 1990s, Kaper-Dale said. They immigrated to the U.S. on tourist visas that allowed them to get Social Security cards and legally work here.

They worked, paid taxes and raised families — many of their children were born in the U.S. — until 2003, when a government program implemented in response to the 9/11 attacks compelled all adult males from 15 predominantly Muslim countries to register with U.S. authorities.
The terms of the bill are very specific, and Indonesian applicants must meet some pretty strict requirements. But more than a thousand Indonesians could be eligible and allowed to stay. More here: Canceling Stay, U.S. Orders 72 Indonesians in New Jersey to Leave.