Confirmed victory

ICE Director Morton : Stop Deporting Persecuted Indonesian Christian Rovani Wangko

Rovani Wangko has sought Sanctuary at the Reformed Church of Highland Park in NJ, giving up his job and personal freedom, rather than be deported to Indonesia. He is defying an ICE order for deportation because he seeks freedom from religious persecution that he personally experienced in his homeland. 

Rovani came to the U.S. in 1995 entering legally on a visitor’s visa. "I over-stayed my visa to escape the terrible discrimination against Christians that had taken over Indonesia," explains Rovani. The population then was about 90% Muslim and 10% all other religions including Christian.  Indonesia requires that a person’s religion must be listed on his or her government-issued ID card. "At various times I was assaulted when random strangers as members of the public demanded to see my ID, and saw on it that I am Christian.  It happened when I was riding a bus, another time when I went to the store, and it happened to others in my family and to my friends."

"In Indonesia, nobody would hire me because I am Christian. Christians who go to renew a driver’s license are put at the back of the line, if a Muslim arrives after you. Some Muslim religious leaders incite their followers to commit violence against Christians; mobs feel justified and holy to hurt us. The discrimination and persecution are government-sanctioned.  Authorities did not step in to prevent killing of Christians and burning of churches and homes."  

After he applied for NSEERS, Rovani filed for asylum, but was denied because he missed the 1-year deadline. He is single. "Ever since I came to the USA I worked hard to support myself and help take care of others. I work in restaurant and warehouse industries and I operate a fork lift. I have always paid my taxes, and never committed a crime.  I am an active member of Indonesian Family Church in Elmhurst, NY for the past seventeen years."

Rovani explains why he came forward voluntarily: "I registered for NSEERS when the program was created after 9/11, because I wanted to cooperate with the US government to live here safely and practice my faith freely. My work of charity is assisting people who break down on the road.  I carry jumper cables and know how to diagnose car problems. I have rescued stranded motorists on the roadside at least ten times. I love helping people and want to be able to stay here and continue giving my skill as a Good Samaritan."

Rovani's sister is a green card holder and will become a citizen in 2012.  His health is compromised by diabetes and he could not get sufficient care if he has to return to Indonesia. "I love the USA and feel I qualify for prosecutorial discretion for all the above circumstances. Please help me to stay in this country," ask Rovanni. 

But ICE has PRIORITIZED deporting Christian Indonesians, deporting 9 from our Central NJ community since January 1, 2012. Watch a film about their situation at http://brokenasylumfilm.com

Though Rovani has petitioned the U.S. government for asylum for a decade, ICE has denied his request for prosecutorial discretion.  As a diabetic who would not receive adequate healthcare in Indonesia and as a persecuted Christian, Rovanni meets multiple factors in John Morton's June 17, 2011 memo promising to re-focus ICE on deporting criminals and they refuse to return to Indonesia where violent mobs have destroyed 1,700 churches since 1995 and persecution persists to this day.

SIGN THIS PETITION and help thousands of Christian Indonesians across the U.S. whose lives are being torn apart. Like Rovanni, Indonesian men registered for NSEERS and applied for asylum to help the U.S. fight terrorism post-9/11. They have become entrapped in an immigration system whose quota of 400,000 deportations per year in the last three years leaves scant room for humanitarian concerns. 

Rovani's faith that God will find a way where there seems to be no way has inspired our small community in Central New Jersey to advocate and work tirelessly for them and Christian Indonesians across the country. A big job for our small group! We need your help. Learn more at http://keepfamiliestogether.com

Along with 11 members of the U.S. Congress, including Carolyn Maloney and Yvette Clarke from NY and Frank Pallone and Rush Holt from NJ, we urge ICE to stay deportations for Rovani and Indonesian families while a bill our Pastor Seth Kaper-Dale helped write, the Indonesian Refugee Family Protection Act is being considered in both Houses. Senator Frank Lautenberg introduced S-3339, while Ms. Maloney and Mr. Pallone introduced HR-3590, now supported by 18 Representatives. It allows Indonesians who fled from 1997-2003 a chance to file for asylum without the 1-year deadline that has kept their cases from being heard.

US HOUSE OF REPS. Colleagues urge ICE to prevent Indonesian Christian Refugees from being deported back to a life of persecution in their homeland. http://maloney.house.gov/press-release/rep-maloney-joins-house-colleagues-urging-ice-prevent-indonesian-christian-regugees

THE NEW YORK TIMES   A Sanctuary Amid Fears of Persecution at Home.                                                    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/17/nyregion/reformed-church-gives-sanctuary-to-indonesians-ordered-to-be-deported.html

THE STAR LEDGER    NJ Assemblyman Peter J. Barnes introduced a state resolution to enact HR-3590 http://www.mycentraljersey.com/article/20120511/NJNEWS/305110070/Assemblyman-visits-Indonesian-immigrants-Highland-ParkHUFFINGTON POST    NY Rep. Carolyn Maloney, visited the immigrants and said, "They fled violence, they fled the burning and the raids of their religious sanctuaries. I think it's just the fair and just thing to allow them their day in court."http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/06/indonesian-immigrants-pastor-congress-church_n_1409248.html

WASHINGTON POST   Minister sees no choice but to fight for refugees.    http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/on-faith/minister-sees-no-choice-but-to-fight-for-refugees/2012/04/05/gIQAbJmrxS_story.html

THE NEW REPUBLIC   Broken Promises: How Obama's Immigration Failures Have Put A New Jersey Community On Edge http://www.tnr.com/article/politics/101307/immigration-indonesians-new-jersey

CHRISTIAN POST    Indonesian Christians Facing Deportation in US Appeal to Obama http://www.christianpost.com/news/indonesian-christians-facing-deportation-in-us-appeal-to-obama-69540/

CNN    http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/world/2011/12/09/pkg-snow-indonesian-deportation-fight.cnn

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Liz ESTES started this petition with a single signature, and won with 167 supporters. Start a petition to change something you care about.