This Easter Weekend, the Associated Press is reporting on a New Jersey church that is walking the walk and providing sanctuary for those in need. Three Indonesian immigrants caught in a type of legal limbo and would risk being detained by immigration officials if they left the church grounds.
In the late 1990s social upheaval in Indonesia included repeated attacks on Christians and the burning of churches.
In response to this violence, the U.S. government relaxed some of its visa policies and was generous in issuing tourist visas to many Indonesian Christians to allow them to escape the conditions in their native country. This was an expedient response, but one can argue that it would have been more appropriate to process those fleeing Indonesia as refugees.
Once they arrived in the U.S., many of these individuals sought employment and started families here. In the meantime, post-9/11 security policies became more rigid and in the ensuing decade immigration enforcement increased. One way or another, all three individuals fell under the scrutiny of immigration officials and were ordered to depart from the United States. They did not qualify to apply for asylum protection because current law requires foreign nationals to file for asylum within one year of entering the United States or when conditions in their home country change drastically.
Federal officials are contemplating an update to this statute that could extend asylum protection to these displaced individuals. You can read the entire article here: http://ow.ly/a85j3