UPDATE (5/24/17 6:55 PM MDT): Haris Simangunsong has been deported back to Indonesia; a country where he has not lived in for over 20 years and where he faces religious persecution. This breaking news was confirmed by American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and Coloradans For Immigrant Rights (CFIR).
Englewood, CO – Haris Simangunsong, an undocumented immigrant from Indonesia, was detained during a scheduled check-in with ICE on Tuesday, May 23, 2017. Advocates with the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and Coloradans For Immigrant Rights (CFIR) posted an “action alert” on their facebook page:
Haris is now on a plane to San Francisco. Please call *now* to keep Haris where he belongs. Dial 202-282-8000 to the DHS Operator. ‘I am calling to ask Secretary Kelly to stop the deportation of Haris Simangunsong, A#095-629-939 who is a Christian seeking asylum from religious persecution in Indonesia. He has a Motion to Reopen pending with Board of Immigration appeals, was detained yesterday and is now on a flight to San Francisco.’ ”
Simangunsong came to the US on a tourist visa in 1996 escaping religious persecution. He is a Lutheran Christian and is part of the minority Batak tribe. At the time of his immigration, extremists claiming the Islamic faith were coming to power in Indonesia and targeting Christians. Simangunsong was beaten and threatened for his religious and tribal identities.
Even after he left Indonesia, his parents received threats and a letter at their house, therefore, if he is deported back to Indonesia, his life is at risk.
Simangunsong’s problems began in 2003, when he complied with the Bush Administration’s request for all men from Muslim-majority countries to register into the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) with the US government. This registry was created because of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, and was suspended in 2011 under the Obama Administration.
When Simangunsong registered, they referred him to immigration court proceedings, during which he filed for asylum. In 2007, the judge told him “there are 17,000 islands in Indonesia and surely you could find one that would be safe to live on,” then denied his asylum request. Simangunsong appealed the decision, but the appeal was denied in 2012.
After his appeal was denied, he was granted multiple stays of deportation because his youngest son, Chris, was dying from brain cancer. Chris passed away on January 1, 2016.
Simangunsong’s most recent stay of deportation expired, which is why he needed to check in with ICE on Tuesday.
He and his wife have another son, Mark, who is 13 and a citizen. Simangunsong does not want to be separated from his family, nor from his community and home where he has lived in for over 20 years.
AFSC and CFIR were live during a press conference for Simangunsong on Wednesday:
During the press conference, AFSC leader Jennifer Piper, talked about Simangunsong’s Motion to Reopen his asylum case, which is currently pending and could take six to nine months to open. Even with his status pending, he is now in deportation proceedings and could be deported any day.
“Our concern is what will happen to Haris in the next six to nine months while Haris is back in Indonesia where he faces persecution” – Jennifer Piper
Piper launched an online petition directed at Secretary Kelly, Department of Homeland Security, and Field Office Director Jeffrey Lynch to encourage them to grant Simangunsong a stay of deportation. Over 1,000 people have signed the petition in 24 hours.
Unicorn Riot will post updates about Simangunsong, when they become available.
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Previous Unicorn Riot coverage of immigration and the border crisis:
- Jeanette Vizguerra, Among Others, Celebrate Victories Against ICE Deportation Attempts (May 17, 2017)
- Sanctuary Movement Leader, Arturo Hernandez Garcia, Detained by ICE While at Work (April 30, 2017)
- Jeanette Vizguerra Named One of Time’s 100 Most Influential People as She Remains in Sanctuary (April 22, 2017)
- Crisis: Borderlands (March 14, 2017)
- Arizona Anti-ICE Demo Meets Arrests and Chemical Agents (Feb. 17, 2017)
- Deportations Begin Under Trump’s Regime (Feb. 14, 2017)
- Love Knows No BAN No Walls Vigil at GEO ICE Detention Center (Feb. 8, 2017)