An Indonesian man who has lived in Connecticut for decades and is facing deportation has sought sanctuary at a Meriden church.
The Connecticut Immigrant Rights Alliance confirmed that 68-year-old Sujitno Sajuti has sought sanctuary at the at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Meriden.
Rev. Dr. Jan Carlsson-Bull said the church made the decision in September to become a sanctuary location and that they have the full support of their regional leadership to take in Sajuti.
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Sajuti came to the United States in 1981 as a Fulbright Scholar and currently lives in West Hartford.
After receiving stays of removal for four years, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) ordered Sajuti's deportation for Tuesday.
ICE released a statement on Sajuti's case:
“Sujitno Sajuti is a citizen of Indonesia who entered the U.S. legally in 1989, but overstayed his lawful visit by several years. A federal immigration judge issued him a final order of removal in October 2003.
In an exercise of discretion at the time, ICE chose not to place Mr. Sajuti into custody and allowed him ample time, and numerous stays of removal, to pursue legal options to resolve his case. He has since exhausted these options and in August he was given instructions to provide evidence he intends to depart the United States in compliance with the judge’s removal (deportation) order. Mr. Sajuti did not leave the United States per the court’s instructions and is now considered an ICE fugitive."
Advocates from the Connecticut Immigrant Rights Alliance said the decision is heartbreaking and that Sajuti is a productive member of his community.
"This is inhumane. This is – there are no words to describe the pain that the community feels right now as this man is in need of seeking refuge in a church to avoid being separated from his family, his community, his loved ones,” said Jesus Morales Sanchez, who works for the Alliance.
The Connecticut Immigrant Rights Alliance is involved in other cases, including that of Marco Reyes, who is in his ninth week in the sanctuary of a church in New Haven.
Sajuti was issued a GPS tracking device, which he continues to wear. His lawyers continue to search for an outlet for him to legally remain in the country. For now, he remains in Meriden at the church with his wife, who is not at risk for deportation.