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On February 1, a federal judge put a halt to the deportation of about 50 Indonesian Christians living in New Hampshire. The next day, a different judge took the same measure to protect another 50 Indonesian Christians in New Jersey.
Despite an ongoing crackdown by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on immigrants living in the United States illegally, these 100 Christians from Southeast Asia can breathe a little easier—for now.
In the New Hampshire case, US District Judge Patti Saris gave the immigrants living mostly in the state’s coastal towns 90 days to reopen their cases once they receive the necessary paperwork.
Most of the endangered immigrants are counted among a group of about 2,000 ethnic Chinese Indonesian Christians who fled violence in their home country two decades ago. Each of them entered the United States legally, typically via tourist visas now long overstayed. While some have been granted legal status, others—including the dozens now threatened with deportation—have seen their applications denied or stalled.
The immigrants have held jobs, raised families, and lived peacefully in the US over the last 20 years. But their reprieve granted under previous administrations has ended as President Donald Trump emphasized a policy of removing illegal aliens.
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