February 19, 2013
Indonesian Immigrants Holed Up in New Jersey Church Won’t Be Deported
(UPDATED) The eight Christians, who claim they fled persecution, are temporarily free to stay in the United States.
Update (Feb. 27): The Star-Ledger takes a closer look at the decision, noting the eight refugees—including a few who have been living at the church for more than one year—are part of a group of 80 Indonesians seeking asylum in the area, as well as the status of a congressional bill that would resolve their situation.
Eight Indonesian immigrants who have lived in a New Jersey church for months in order to avoid deportation can now leave the property thanks to a decision by immigration officials.
The “immigration fugitives” are now on “order of supervision,” which means the six men and two women—who said they fled persecution for their faith in Indonesia—must check in with federal agents regularly but won’t be deported by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.
The small group attended Reformed Church of Highland Park. Some of them began camping out in the church building nearly a year ago. At that time, Immigration and Customs Enforcement told many Indonesian immigrants who had overstayed tourist visas and missed asylum application deadlines to leave the country immediately.
The refugees, who said they fear for their lives in Indonesia, moved to church property, where doctors and others made house calls to help the immigrants over the past year.
Monitors have counted increasing cases of violence against Christians in Indonesia over the past two years. In 2008, the country adopted more than 600 Shari’ah inspired laws, and religious persecution in the archipelago makes headlines regularly.
CT has regularly reported on Indonesia.