Pastor Who Granted Sanctuary to Meet with ICE Officials

By Sandi Villarreal 03-15-2012
Keep Indonesian Families Together, photo via Reformed Church of Highland Park

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

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.

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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