The Common Good

Misguided Encouragement Leads to Deportation of Indonesian Immigrant

The day before the Rev. Seth Kaper-Dale was supposed to meet with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials, a tragedy occurred — one more Indonesian immigrant from his congregation was deported.

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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Like many of his fellow Christian brothers and sister who arrived in the United States in the late 90's and early 2000's, Ferdy Warouf fled Indonesia because of a rise in Islamic extremism that threatened the lives of the Indonesian Christian community.

Warouf’s wife, Silvia, also escaped persecution on her island of origin and until recently had never filed paperwork with U.S. immigration services. Silvia's desire to keep her family together is what gave her the courage to open an asylum case even though she had a one-year time limit going against her.

Ferdy’s hope was that, with Silvia’s asylum case open, the stay of removal request form that he had been encouraged to file by ICE officials in Newark, N.J., would be considered.

Sadly, despite Silvia's ongoing asylum case, immigration officials denied Ferdy’s stay of removal request.

The Waroufs chose to comply unwillingly with the decision, as they feared being detained and worried about their relatives' safety in Indonesia — and out of a growing sense of resignation.

On March 19, Ferdy Warouf was deported.  His devastated and outraged community in New Jersey was left to pray for his safety in Indonesia.

Kaper-Dale, pastor at the Reformed Church of Highland Park in Newark, has been an advocate for the Indonesian immigrant community since he started at the church in 2001. Currently, one Indonesian immigrant is living in the church, seeking sanctuary from deportation.

Kaper-Dale told Sojourners earlier this month that while ICE authorities may continue to push for the deportation of members of his congregation, but the Reformed Church is must respond to a higher authority.

CLICK HERE to watch What is Prosecutorial Discretion? and  learn more about Kaper-Dale, his congregation and their struggles to fight injustice in the immigration system:


Ivone Guillen is Sojourners' Immigration Campaigns Fellow. A native of Washington State, where she lived and worked amongst immigrant communities, Ivone graduated from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash., in 2009 with a degree in international studies and Spanish, and worked with Tierra Vida (Land of Life) as program coordinator for C.A.S.A. and was a immigration policy fellow at Bread For The World before joining Sojourners in September.

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