Lawmakers introduced Federal legislation Wednesday that would help stop select Indonesian immigrants from being deported, Reuters reported. The Indonesian Family Refugee Protection Act’s purpose is to aid a group of Indonesian immigrants in New Jersey as well as smaller groups in New York and New Hampshire, who, despite a special agreement with immigration officials to work legally, have received deportation letters.

Most are Indonesian Christians who fled the country in the late 1990s because of religious persecution, according to Reuters. When they came to the U.S. they were allowed to get Social Security cards and work legally. But in 2003, following 9/11, a special government program which required foreign-born adult males from a group of mostly Muslim countries (Indonesia is the most populous Muslim country in the world) to register with the government. When these Christian Indonesians registered, however, the Reuters article said, and started the process of applying for permanent status, they were told it was too late to apply for asylum because it has to be done within one year of arrival. Starting in 2006, the government began deporting these Indonesians.

Read more here.

After recently reading a book about men who faced deportation because of this same government registration program, ”We Are All Suspects Now,” I found the topic of the article particularly interesting. The article paralleled that book in many ways. For example, both discussed how these immigrants registered in “good faith” because they thought if they followed the rules they would be okay.

-Cristabelle Tumola

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