Man who sought asylum in New Jersey church caught up in 100-day surge in non-criminal arrests.
Four years ago, eight Indonesian Christians living in New Jersey received some encouraging news: despite overstaying their visas for more than a decade, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents would not be deporting them.
This year, ICE changed its mind.
In March, four men in the group attended an annual check-in meeting with ICE officials in Newark. There, authorities asked them to return with their passports in May. But when the men returned last week, this time joined by a lawyer, they were arrested and sent to an immigration detention center.
Yesterday, one was deported back to Indonesia, part of a 40-percent surge in ICE arrests in the first 100 days of the Trump administration. This includes 100 arrests a day of undocumented immigrants with no criminal record.
Their arrest came the same week that Indonesia’s most popular Christian politician was jailed for blasphemy, just weeks after losing a gubernatorial reelection bid. The world’s most populous Muslim country had been recently visited and praised by Vice President Mike Pence for its “tradition of modern Islam.” Christians make up seven percent of Indonesia’s nearly 260 million people.
CT reported in 2012 how record religious violence in Indonesia was bolstering the men’s claim for asylum.
The US Commission on International Religious Freedom listed Indonesia as a “Tier 2” country in its 2017 report. The Pew Research Center ranked Indonesia in its most restrictive categories measuring government restrictions and social hostilities in its 2017 report on global religious restrictions. (The report uses data from 2015.)
In 2014, Pew called out Indonesia (along with several of the world’s 25 most populous countries) …