New Jersey Indonesians Face Deportation

As Indonesia’s Christians were targeted for persecution in the 1990s, a number of them traveled to the United States on a U.S. tourist visa and decided to remain in the country after the visa expired. According to the New Jersey Star-Ledger, many of these illegal Indonesian immigrants were able to obtain jobs and housing in the Garden State under the relatively liberal immigration policies prior to September 11, but have struggled to negotiate the more stringent policies pursued since then and now face deportation.

After September 11, immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries like Indonesia were required to register with immigration authorities, and according to the Star-Ledger, many of New Jersey’s Indonesian men did so, in hopes of obtaining legal residency. Instead, they found themselves targeted for deportation.

A 2006 raid on an apartment complex in Middlesex County resulted in 32 Indonesian immigrants being detained, many of whom were ultimately deported, the Star-Ledger reported. Following this raid, other Indonesians in New Jersey effectively went into hiding. This situation improved when a local pastor negotiated an agreement with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to grant the New Jersey Indonesians a two-year order of supervision, which allowed them to obtain a work permit and remain in the country, periodically checking in with ICE agents.

However, the two-year term of the order has now almost expired, and so far, 60 Indonesians have been given a leave-by date, when they must present ICE with their travel arrangements to exit the country, the news source reported.

The affected immigrants hope for favorable rulings when their cases are reviewed by ICE, which will be done as part of the Obama Administration’s initiative to reconsider every pending deportation and pursue only those deemed high priority from a national security standpoint, according to the Star-Ledger.

Although the comprehensive review was announced in June, the review process began on November 17. Under the established system, immigrants who are granted “prosecutorial discretion” will have their deportations canceled and their cases closed, but the government will reserve the right to reinstate the deportation order if the immigrant commits a crime.