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Federal Judge Temporarily Stays Deportation Of Indonesian Men Arrested By ICE

Deputy Mayor Shanel Robinson. left, and Mayor Phil Kramer at the Jan. 28 vigil and rally for two Indonesian men facing deportation. (File photo.)


A federal district court judge on Feb. 2 temporarily stayed the deportation of two Indonesian men – one of whom is a Franklin Park resident – who were arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The men, Gunawan Liem of Franklin Park and Roby Sanger of Metuchen, were arrested on Jan. 25 after they dropped their respective children off at bus stops. The men were taken to the Essex County Detention Center, where they remain.

A third man, Harry Pangemanan, barely missed being arrested and took refuge in the Reformed Church of Highland Park.

Federal District Court Judge Esther Salas, sitting in Newark, issued the temporary stay in response to a class action suit filed that same day by the New Jersey branch of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants Rights Project and the law firm Paul Weiss, according to a release from the ACLU.

Liem and Sanger are Christians who fled Indonesia decades ago fearing reprisals from radical Islamists.

“These community members, our neighbors, are entitled to argue their case with the protections of due process, especially when the stakes are life-and-death,” ACLU-NJ Executive Director Amol Sinha said in the release. “They deserve to have notice before being exiled to a country where their lives will be at risk, and they deserve the opportunity to challenge that decision.”

“This case involves life-and-death stakes and we are simply asking that these longtime residents be given opportunity to show that they are entitled to remain here,” Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, said in the release. “As in other recent similar cases in Detroit, Boston, Miami and Los Angeles involving mass deportations, we are asking the court to make clear that the fundamental protections of due process apply to non-citizens.”

In the suit, the plaintiffs argued that rounding up community members without notice using years-old removal orders, which pre-date a recent uptick in violence against Christians in Indonesia, violates the Fifth Amendment right to due process, according to the release.

“We are extremely heartened and relieved that Judge Salas has ruled that these families may not be deported while she reviews their case,” ACLU-NJ Senior Staff Attorney Farrin Anello said in the release. “Our Constitution and laws recognize that people must not be jailed or deported without an opportunity to seek court review of these harsh actions. Nowhere is this right to due process more important than in the government’s decision to send people to a country where their lives would be in danger.”

In her ruling, Salas wrote that “an order is necessary to maintain the status quo until the Court determines whether it has
jurisdiction over this matter.”

Salas said her ruling applies not only to Liem and Sanger, but also “(a)ll Indonesian nationals within the jurisdiction of the Newark ICE Field Office, with administratively final orders of removal predating 2009 and were subject to an order of supervision.”

Salas gave the plaintiffs until Feb. 16 to file an opening brief, until March 9 to file a brief addressing the jurisdictional issue, and the defendants until March 2 to file their response.

Among those named as defendants in the suit are John Tsoukaris, ICE’s Newark Field Office Director for Enforcement and Removal Operations; Kirstjen Nielsen, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

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