A federal judge ordered United States immigration officials to delay the efforts to deport 51 Indonesians who live illegally in New Hampshire. The group will now have time to argue that the conditions in Indonesia could be dangerous for them. An attorney for the Christian Indonesians said that the judge’s decision is very important.
“It reaffirms the central role of the federal courts in ensuring that there is a fair process when someone’s life may be at stake. The court soundly rejected the government’s position that the federal courts lack authority to ensure that individuals have an opportunity to present their case before an immigration judge before they’re removed,” said Lee Gelernt, of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project.
In August, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials began ordering the Indonesians, who fled violence in their country two decades ago and fear persecution if they return home, to prepare to leave the country within two months. Most of the Indonesians entered the U.S. legally, but overstayed their visas and did not seek asylum on time. The group is covered by the 2010 deal with ICE, Reuters reports.
When the members of the group showed up for ICE check-ins in August, they were told to prepare to leave the country. Previously, President Donald Trump during his campaign promised to crack down on illegal immigration.
Federal law gives authority over immigration matters to the executive branch, not the courts. Chief U.S. District Judge Patti Saris in Boston gave the Indonesians a chance to argue that conditions in their home country had deteriorated significantly enough to reopen their cases for trying to stay in the States.
ICE spokesman Shawn Neudauer said that they were reviewing the decision and would comply with the court order. ICE officials said that they would appeal a previous decision by Saris telling the agency to hold off deporting any of the Indonesians covered by the agreement.