NJ introduces bill to help Indonesians

According to the Wall Street Journal, U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey has introduced a bill that would help Indonesians who have fled religious persecution by anti-Christian extremists in the majority Muslim nation.

“America has a long history of protecting refugees from persecution and this legislation gives these families a chance to legally seek asylum and to continue contributing to our country,” Senator Lautenberg said to WSJ.

Between 1996 and 2003, the U.S. government allowed hundreds of Indonesian Christians to seek assylum in America through tourist visas because more than 1,000 churches were destroyed by anti-Christian extremists. This occurred during the aftermath of the fall of the regime of longtime dictator Suharto. Those who sought assylum in the U.S. came to New Jersey, New York and New Hampshire, and began working and raising families.

After 9/11, immigrant men between 16 and 65 years of age from predominantly Muslim countries who entered the U.S. on temporary visas were required to register with the government or be classified as terrorist fugitives, according to the article.

Many who registered did not expect to face deported, but they are.

Senator Lautenberg’s bill would allow them to re-apply for asylum. It would not grant them amnesty. Democratic U.S. representatives Carolyn Maloney of NY and Frank Pallone Jr. of NJ have introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

The New Jersey Assembly unanimously passed a resolution endorsing federal legislation to help Indonesians last week.

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About Haley Behre

I graduated from Syracuse University in December 2011 with majors in newspaper journalism and women and gender studies. Using these majors, I aspire to become a journalist who writes about human rights issues. I have held internships at the Syracuse New Times, Dash Media PR Firm, Syracuse Post-Standard and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. I also had an internship at the Not For Sale Campaign Syracuse chapter, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating human trafficking. I was born in Seoul, Korea on September 30, 1990 and moved to the United States before I was one year old. When I was 8, my family and I moved to Norwich, England for three years. While I was here I was immersed into a new culture and got to experience many things other children my age do not get to. Over the three years, I visited Ireland, France and the Netherlands several times, and Belgium, Wales and Sweden once. In the winter of 2010, I got an amazing opportunity to visit Kenya for a month. This was by far the single most eye-opening experience of my life thus far. The natural beauty of the landscape and its people do not compare to anything I have seen. I currently intern for the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press in the hopes of getting a full-time job at a newspaper or non-profit after.
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