Judge orders U.S. to delay deporting
Indonesians in immigration fight
Send a link to a friend
[November 28, 2017]
By Scott Malone
BOSTON (Reuters) - A federal judge on
Monday ordered U.S. immigration officials to delay any efforts to deport
51 Indonesians living illegally in New Hampshire so the group can have
time to argue that changing conditions in that country would make it
dangerous to return.
The order affects a group of Indonesian Christians who fled violence in
that country two decades ago and had been living openly for years in New
England under an informal deal. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
officials in August began ordering them to prepare to leave the country
within two months.
Most members of the group covered by the 2010 deal with ICE entered the
United States legally but overstayed their visas and failed to seek
asylum on time.
Beginning in August, members of the group who showed up for ICE
check-ins were told to prepare to leave the country, in keeping with
U.S. President Donald Trump's campaign promise to crack down on illegal
Members of the group have said in interviews with Reuters that they fear
they would face persecution or violence for their Christian faith and
Chinese ethnicity if they were returned to the world's largest
Federal law gives authority over immigration matters to the executive
branch, not the courts. Chief U.S. District Judge Patti Saris in Boston
found she had authority to ensure the Indonesians have a chance to argue
that conditions in their home country had deteriorated significantly
enough to reopen their cases for trying to stay in the United State.
She worried that without the order, ICE officials could deport some of
the Indonesians covered by the suit, at which time they would lose the
opportunity to have their cases reopened.
[to top of second column]
Demonstrators hold an "Interfaith Prayer Vigil for Immigrant
Justice" outside the federal building, where ethnic Chinese
Christians who fled Indonesia after wide scale rioting decades ago
and overstayed their visas in the U.S. must check-in with ICE, in
Manchester, New Hampshire, U.S. on October 13, 2017. REUTERS/Brian
"The government shall inform the court whether petitioners, who are
not detained, will have access to emergency procedures if they must
file their original motions to reopen," Saris wrote.
"We are reviewing the decision and will comply with the court
order," ICE spokesman Shawn Neudauer said in an email.
ICE officials said in federal court filings that they would appeal
an earlier decision by Saris telling the agency to hold off
deporting any of the Indonesians covered by the agreement.
The Indonesians are part of an ethnic community of about 2,000
people clustered around the city of Dover, New Hampshire. Their
cause has drawn the support of the state's all-Democratic
congressional delegation, including U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen and
Republican Governor Chris Sununu.
(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Peter Cooney)
[© 2017 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2017 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.