Immigration Arrests at Schools ‘Deeply Disturbing,’ NJ Attorney General Says
HIGHLAND PARK — The new state attorney general on Friday criticized immigration officials for arresting two immigrants while they were sending their children off to school on Thursday.
Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said the ICE agents appeared to have violated a federal prohibition on immigration enforcement actions at “sensitive locations” such as schools.
On Thursday, ICE arrested Indonesian nationals Gunawan Liem, of Franklin Park, and Roby Sanger, of Metuchen, as Liem dropped of his daughter at a school bus stop and Sanger left his daughter at school.
ICE attempted to arrest a third Indonesian immigrant at his home in Highland Park but he did not answer the door.
Harry Pangemanan later sought sanctuary at Reform Church of Highland Park, where Gov. Phil Murphy and U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J. 6th District, rushed to meet him and the wives of the two other men after learning about the arrests.
The three men and their families are among dozens of Indonesian immigrants who moved to New Jersey in the 1990s to escape persecution for being Chinese Christians.
The church’s pastor, Seth Kaper-Dale, an immigration advocate who has championed the Indonesian immigrants’ cause, said the three men had final orders of removal that had routinely been put on hold by federal immigration officials as they sought asylum.
In a letter to U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, Grewal called Thursday’s arrests “deeply upsetting” and urged her to make sure that immigration officials do not attempt to arrest people at courthouses or government facilities.
“As a former federal prosecutor, county prosecutor, and now the chief law enforcement officer for New Jersey, I fully understand the need to enforce our nation’s laws but I am equally committed to ensuring that all of the residents of New Jersey have a safe environment to attend to their lives, whether it be to attend school, participate in our judicial system, or access state government services.”