Press Conference at 11am on the church steps. The church that has been working tirelessly to support Indonesian Refugees who came to this country on tourist visas during a time of incredible violence against ethnic Chinese Christians made the decision, today, to offer SANCTUARY to one of the members of the central NJ Indonesian Christian community.
Saul Timisela is slated to be deported at 7am this morning. He was officially told of his deportation yesterday. Saul has reported to the church, rather than to ICE. Today we will cry out to God, and cry out to the President, asking that he stop deporting Indonesian Christian Refugees who are not criminals nor egregious immigration offenders (the stated priority populations for ICE removals).
On January 12th Saul tried to file an I-246, stay of removal, that highlighted various humanitarian factors that are part of the June 17th Prosecutorial Discretion Memo. Saul met many of the criteria stated as important in that memo. An officer encouraged him to strengthen the I-246 with more medial evidence about his liver disease, heart disease and hypertension—which may stem from his work of clearing debri from Ground Zero starting in September 2001. She asked him to come back on Feb. 15th
Saul collected the requested medical information prior to his next report date (Feb 15th) and his I-246, with the $155 processing fee, was received.
It was told to Saul at the January report date that ICE had set a departure for March 1, but the fact that the officer simultaneously requested better documents for making a decision suggested to Saul and to the church that the March 1 date would only happen if he didn’t get more solid information for his I-246 submission. Also, a recent update from ICE Headquarters about the various cases we’d inquired about did NOT include Saul as someone slated for deportation.
Yesterday, February 29th, Saul went to ICE for his next report, and they told him he was being deported the next day. They didn’t tell him if his new I-246 had been considered or denied. They didn’t seem to take seriously any of the medical evidence that he’d gotten for them in response to their request made in January.
Saul and his wife moved to this country in 1998 and 2000, respectively. The stories of persecution they endured in Indonesia are horrific. Saul reported for NSEERS in 2003 and his life, like the lives of all Indonesians, has been an immigration nightmare since that time. Saul’s wife, after seeing all asylum cases of her friends denied because of the time bar for filing, wisely did not open a case. She is waiting for HR 3590, the Indonesian Refugee Family Protection Act, a bill that has bi-partisan support.
The Reformed Church of Highland Park will offer Sanctuary to Saul and do our best to offer him the kind of steadfast love that we claim is at the heart of God.