November 12, 2017


How Trump Is Using Bush-Era Laws to Deport Christians : The plight of Indonesian Christians living in New Hampshire and New Jersey reveals the deep roots of the current immigration regime. (KRITHIKA VARAGUR, November 10, 2017, New Republic)

These deportees, whose names have been changed to protect their identities, didn't realize it, but they were all walking targets for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. And not just in the months that Donald Trump has been president, but for nearly 15 years. In 2003, dozens of undocumented Indonesians registered for a post-9/11 program that could qualify as a "Muslim registry" of sorts. That program, the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, or NSEERS, was a database of adult male "noncitizens" from 25 countries, all Muslim-majority except North Korea, designed to monitor potential terrorists. The 83,000 entries, ironically, included a number of Christians, like David and John, who came from the world's largest Muslim-majority country.

Six men from New Jersey were suddenly deported this year, while 47 in New Hampshire have been given orders to leave. They had all been living quietly in the United States for decades before being apprehended by an ICE that has been emboldened by the Trump administration. The New Jersey men were forced to board planes back to Indonesia, while those in New Hampshire have been granted a temporary stay of removal while a judge considers a lawsuit on their behalf. But the outlook is dim.

Indonesian Christians came to America in the 1990s partly because of flaring religious tensions as the Suharto regime collapsed in 1998. Today there's another wave of religious intolerance in Indonesia, which crested last spring when Jakarta's Chinese Christian governor was jailed for blasphemy, and continues to this day in a steady drip of anti-Christian actions.

Another grim irony of the deportations is that the Indonesian men in Central Jersey voluntarily registered themselves for NSEERS, under the encouragement of Kaper-Dale. They reasoned that doing so might improve their candidacy for legal status in the eyes of law enforcement if their asylum cases were ever reopened. "At the time, we thought honesty was the best policy. It turned out to be the very worst policy," said Kaper-Dale. "If I could go back I'd say no way, don't even register--that if there's any government program for immigrants, just assume it's something evil."

The deep roots of NSEERS show how the seemingly unprecedented immigration turmoil of the Trump era--which has been roundly condemned for being "not normal"--is, in fact, deeply precedented. The patchwork nature of immigration regulations means that any individual's legal status is subject to the whims of local, state, and federal authorities.

"The Indonesian community is an interesting case, as these are people originally identified by NSEERS who are now targeted for deportation precisely because of the fact that they have prior removal orders," said Shoba Wadhia, an immigration law professor at Pennsylvania State University. "It's fair to say there are parallels between some of the immigration policies developed after 9/11 and those of the present administration."

The New Jersey Indonesians' trials started long before Trump. They had a major scare in 2009, when 41 men received deportation orders based on their NSEERS registration. Kaper-Dale brokered a unique agreement with local immigration officials whereby 72 undocumented Indonesian men could remain in their homes if they checked in with ICE every month.

It was a tenuous agreement from the start. In 2011, a change of leadership in state ICE led to more deportation orders for those same men, leading five of them to seek sanctuary in Kaper-Dale's church. David, the man who was deported in May, said of that period, "Frankly, I almost gave up. It was very hard to live in the sanctuary for eight months as I had a family that depended on me to pay rent, take my kid to school, and so forth." They were eventually allowed to return to their families as long as they wore ankle monitors with GPS tracking.

After the 2016 election, the fragile set-up really started to disintegrate, starting with Trump voiding special ICE arrangements.

There's no mystery here. Donald is not a Christian.  He is a racist.

Posted by at November 12, 2017 6:27 PM