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He Helped Victims of Superstorm Sandy: Now ICE Wants to Deport This Christian to Indonesia

01-25-2018

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents raided a New Jersey neighborhood Thursday, arresting two undocumented Indonesian Christians who fled their country to escape persecution.

According to app.com, the agents arrested Gunawan Liem and Roby Sanger around 8 a.m. Thursday morning.

"It looked like it happened simultaneously. That way people wouldn't call (and warn) each other," Rev. Seth Kaper-Dale, pastor of Reformed Highland Church and member of the Deportation and Immigration Response Equipo, USA Today reported.

ICE agents also went to the home of Harry Pangemanan, who has permission to temporarily remain in the country, known as a "stay of removal." However, he did not answer the door when they knocked and is currently seeking sanctuary at the Reformed Church of Highland Park.

Pangemanan has helped rebuild more than 200 homes destroyed by superstorm Sandy.

"I've been helped by community when all the troubles happen in my life," Pangemanan told app.com in 2016.  "I don't have much to offer but still can do something for the community because the community in Jersey Shore needs help."

His work has even earned him an award.

"ICE decides that they want to take the guy that just won the MLK award for repairing 209 houses during Hurricane Sandy and assault and threaten him," Kaper-Dale said during a Facebook Live video.

All three men are members of an Indonesian Christian community in Central Jersey who fled religious persecution in Indonesia in the 1990s.

Most of the Christians have overstayed their visas and face the threat of deportation.  Many would have qualified for asylum when they first came to the United States decades ago. However, the rules surrounding asylum petitions changed with the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996.

The law requires asylum seekers to apply within a year of entering the United States. Many immigrants did not find out about the rule changes until it was too late.

While Gunawan Liem and Roby Sanger were taken to jail, Pangemanan will continue to claim sanctuary at his church. All are hoping they will not be deported.

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