On Monday, a federal judge ordered a delay to any efforts being made by US immigration officials to try to deport 51 undocumented Indonesian immigrants, currently living in New Hampshire, to allow the group time to make an argument that it would be too dangerous for them to return to that country due to changing conditions there.
The order affects an Indonesian Christian group who left violence in their home country 20 years ago. They have been openly residing in New England, thanks to an informal deal, only to be ordered to get ready to leave the US two months ago by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The majority of group members covered by the ICE deal from 2010 entered the country legally but ended up overstaying their US visas and neglected to seek asylum in the correct time frame.
From August, group members who attended check-ins with ICE were told to begin preparations to exit the US as part of the illegal immigration crackdown, spearheaded by President Donald Trump. Group members told Reuters that they fear they will face violence and persecution for both their Chinese ethnicity and their Christian beliefs if forced to go back to a nation that has the largest Muslim majority in the world.
Boston’s Chief US District Judge, Patti Saris, ruled that the Indonesians should have the opportunity to make a case that conditions in their home nation have deteriorated enough to warrant a reopening of their case.