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Congressman Pallone Denounces Detainment of Indonesian Refugees in Highland Park

May 10, 2017
Press Release

New Brunswick, NJ –Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) denounced the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) for detaining four Indonesian men who have taken sanctuary at the Reformed Church of Highland Park. The Indonesian nationals are ethnic Chinese Christians, who fled from religious persecution in the 1990s. In 2002, in response to the 9/11 attacks, the Bush Administration introduced a program requiring certain individuals primarily from Muslim countries to register in the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS). At this time the men filed for asylum, but their cases were all denied.

“Oldy Manopo, Arino Massie, Saul Timisela,  Rovani Wangko and their families have already experienced significant trauma as refugees over the last twenty some years,” said Pallone. “They have cooperated with federal officials during their time in the United States and every year, they checked in with ICE and had their stayed renewed. Now, they are the collateral damage of the Trump administration’s inflexible, extreme and discriminatory policies on immigration.”

“Rather than destroying the lives of these refugees the Trump Administration should look to the example of the Reformed Church of Highland Park, which has shown extraordinary compassion to these families in their time of need.”

In 2011, Congressman Pallone introduced legislation that would allow certain Indonesians the opportunity to file a motion to reopen their asylum cases.  The legislation would have removed a procedural barrier preventing them from moving forward with their cases. That year the Congressman also sent a letter to ICE asking that it use prosecutorial discretion in dealing with the refugees.