The Common Good

Pastor Who Granted Sanctuary to Meet with ICE Officials

The Rev. Seth Kaper-Dale, a New Jersey pastor who granted sanctuary to an Indonesian immigrant, is scheduled to meet with a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement public advocate on March 20.

Keep Indonesian Families Together, photo via Reformed Church of Highland Park
Keep Indonesian Families Together, photo via Reformed Church of Highland Park

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But Kaper-Dale said he remains skeptical given the wording in the invitation.

“It’s an invitation to talk, but [says] ‘you’re breaking the law,’” he said.

Saul Timisela — who fled to the United States to escape religious persecution 14 years ago — has now lived in the Reformed Church of Highland Park in Newark, NJ for two weeks, avoiding deportation.

“He’s participated in every church program imaginable,” Kaper-Dale said.

Kaper-Dale granted Timisela sanctuary March 1 after ICE officials told him to report for deportation. Timisela is one of 80 men who were told in December to purchase plane tickets, Kaper-Dale said — two of whom have since been deported, half given 12-month stay, and another eight slated for deportation.

Kaper-Dale says the move is essentially a policy to break up families.

The 300-member church — which hosts a variety of religious groups including Mandarin and Cantonese services, both Orthodox and Reformed Jewish services, and Indonesian service — is making an ecumenical push to get the word out about the situation. Kaper-Dale said his hope is to get churches, businesses and homes all over the metro to display the church’s “Let Them Stay” signs.

Kaper-Dale said that ICE authorities may continue to push for deporting members of the congregation, but the Reformed Church is forced to respond to a higher authority.

This article is a follow-up to one posted on God's Politics last week. For more background, and to read the article, click HERE.

Sandi Villarreal is Associate Web Editor for Sojourners. Follow Sandi on Twitter @Sandi.


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