Skip to comments.United Methodist Church demands release of immigrant caretaker after ICE arrest on church grounds
Posted on 09/23/2020 7:46:31 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
The United Methodist Church is calling on U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to release an undocumented immigrant and father of two U.S. citizens they say was detained on church grounds in a Maryland suburb of Washington, D.C., on Sept. 10.
Binsar Siahaan moved to the U.S. from Indonesia in 1989 on a temporary visa. Soon after, his wife, Eko Sukemi, moved to be with him but both overstayed their visas when they expired a few years later. In 2003 the couple applied for asylum on religious grounds, according to The Washington Post, but two years later an immigration judge ordered Siahaan's deportation which has since been upheld.
The UMC General Board of Church and Society, the advocacy arm of one of the largest mainline Protestant denominations in the U.S., has condemned the detention of Siahaan, who has been a member of the Glenmont United Methodist Church in Silver Spring for six years.
Siahaan, who along with his wife serves as the congregations caretakers, was living with his family in a home on the grounds of the church.
According to a statement from the church body, six ICE agents knowingly violated the agencys Sensitive Locations policy and lied to Siahaan in order to arrest him and begin deportation proceedings.
The General Board of Church and Society called the arrest a clear violation of the agencys own policy because ICE entered church property to arrest and detain the man.
According to the agencys website, places of worship, such as churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples are listed as sensitive locations.
Under ICE policy, enforcement actions are not to occur at or be focused on sensitive locations such as schools, places of worship unless exigent circumstances exist, other law enforcement actions have led officers to a sensitive location or prior approval is obtained from a designated supervisory official.
The United Methodist Church believes church grounds are sacred and should always offer safety, the statement from the UMC board reads. ICE crossing church property to arrest someone under false pretenses is not only a violation of human rights and due process but a breach of ICEs own policy regarding removing someone from a sensitive location.
ICEs reckless actions pose a huge risk for immigrants throughout the country who are in sensitive locations; attending school, receiving care in hospitals and health facilities, and seeking refuge in faith communities, the statements adds.
Across the nation in recent years amid increased immigration enforcement under the Trump administration, some illegal immigrants have taken shelter in churches to avoid deportation. But in the case of Siahaan and his family, they lived on the church grounds because it was their job to care for the church.
Siahaan and his wife have lived in the U.S. for over 29 years and have two minor children who are U.S. citizens.
The couple has a pending motion to reopen their case for asylum on religious grounds as Muslim-majority Indonesia ranks as the 49th-worst country in the world when it comes to Christian persecution, according to Open Doors USAs 2020 World Watch List.
The UMC contends that the father poses no threat to the community.
Binsar and Eko cooperated with all ICE check-ins and requirements, but have tragically fallen victim to ICEs unjust practices and the Trump administrations method of terrorizing families and faith communities who stand with them, the board's statement contends. Church and Society calls on ICE to immediately release Binsar back to his family and church community and publicly commit to their own Sensitive Locations guidelines.
Siahaan was initially held by ICE in Baltimore before being transferred to the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia.
An attorney for Siahaan filed a motion to temporarily block his impending deportation. The lawyer, Elsy Ramos Velasquez, also filed a petition with a federal court in Maryland contending that Siahaans arrest was illegal because ICE entered the home without a warrant. A hearing has been set for Oct. 2.
In a statement provided to The Washington Post, ICE stated that officers arrested Siahaan after he received full due process in the nations immigration courts.
ICE added that an immigration judge ordered his removal in 2005, an order that the agency says has been upheld despite multiple appeals.
Siahaan filed an emergency stay of removal after his most recent arrest, which is currently pending, the statement reads.
The agency did not comment on the UMCs claims that its officers violated ICE policy to obtain Siahaans arrest.
Sukemi told the newspaper that her husband temporarily moved to the U.S. in 1989 on an A-3 visa, giving him the ability to work as a driver for the Indonesian Embassy.
She followed him in coming to the U.S. a few years later as she went to work as a nanny for a diplomats family. The couple overstayed their visas when they expired in the early 1990s.
In 2012, the couple agreed to an order of supervision agreement with ICE requiring them to check in regularly with a local ICE office.
For the past several years, the couple has worked as caretakers of the Glenmont church.
In February, Siahaan was detained after a routine check-in. He was later released with an ankle monitor pending appeals.
The UMC General Board of Church and Society claims that agents tricked Siahaan into leaving the house on Sept. 10. Siahaan was informed that ICE agents needed him to come with them to a local field office.
The sanctity of our sacred spaces should never be violated, Bishop LaTrelle Easterling, leader of the UMC Baltimore-Washington Conference, said in a statement. This calls into question our Administrations respect for communities of faith and for Gods people. This action creates a moral stain on this administration and jeopardizes their integrity in every similarly situated immigration case. Our federal government is not exempt from acting morally and consistently.
Easterling added that Siahaan is the head of a household with two American children who are depending on him for food, shelter and safety.
I call upon ICE to release Mr. Binsar Siahaan immediately, to continue to respect church property as sacred and holy ground, and follow their own established policies and practices around compliance and deportation, Easterling said. Their inappropriate and unnecessary action in this case violates practice, policy, and the Kingdom of God.
Deport ALL illegal aliens, WHEREVER they are from, HOWEVER long they have been here.
Theyve been here since the 90s without getting proper documentation, and were hiding on church grounds?
Almost 30 years here?
“Render unto Caesar...”
What kind of Church would shelter someone who is breaking the Federal law of the USA?
Employing a person in this country illegally is a crime. Charge the church officials.
and 15 of those years theyve been in the wind hiding from authorities to evade arrest and deportation. Being able to successfully evade authorities for 15 years does not make your case stronger nor is it a point in your favor.
Use RICO and seize and auction the grounds
Jesus said to render unto to God that which is God’s and unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s. Seems like the United Methodist Church wasn’t willing to give up their cheap labor to Caesar so Caesar went and got them. This is the same United Methodist Church that is in a very divisive internal debate about embracing homosexuality and same sex marriage among other matters contrary to the Bible. One UMC church near my home has divorced themselves from the UMC and it appears many others will.
The kind that does not want to pay a US citizen a living wage.
Since the church was well aware of his lack of work authorization they knowingly engaged in criminal activity.
I believe the fine for that is around 10K.
I am a United Methodist.
Idiocy like this is why it will soon no longer be United.
As a Methodist, tell the church to piss off! Law breakers dont get sanctuary! If they did, thats where all escaped convicts would head to first!
As a Methodist, tell the church to piss off!
Exactly that is happening in the split that will soon happen. There will be the liberal whackos and a different sect that will be Bible based.
And what does the Bible say?
Romans 13 - Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.
I guess I missed the part about church grounds being sacred to the law.
What kind of Church would shelter someone who is breaking the Federal law of the USA?//
Much of the UMC is apostle.
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