The fight is on to keep a West Hartford man and Fulbright Scholar in the country.
“Everything I get is the blessing of God,” said Sujitno Sajuti.
U.S. & World
Keeping the faith, Sajuti sat down with NBC Connecticut at the place he’s called home for the last 10 months.
Facing possible deportation, he sought refuge at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Meriden.
“It’s positive. You can see what these people, the problem with the kids trapped in the cave. Still much better right? My life so much better,” said Sajuti.
While on Wednesday Sajuti could not leave his sanctuary, he phoned in to thank dozens of his supporters, including his wife.
At the Flagg Road United Church of Christ in West Hartford, they gathered for a potluck and fundraiser for him.
“One of our thoughts in organizing this was we felt hardly anybody even knew we had a resident from this town in sanctuary,” said Mark Diters, minister of Flagg Road United Church of Christ.
“These West Hartford residents have been a part of this community for so long and have given so much to our community so I am super excited we can raise funds that will support them,” said Jillian Gilchrest of West Hartford.
For years we’ve followed Sajuti’s struggle to stay in the country.
Originally from Indonesia, he came to U.S. in 1981 as a Fulbright Scholar and pursued a Ph.D. at UConn.
But after his visa expired, a federal immigration judge eventually ordered him to leave in 2003.
Since then he’s been battling to stay, now hunkered down in the church.
“I hope my legal case gets done, is my prayer,” said Sajuti.
Right now his lawyers are working on several avenues to win his fight.
We reached out to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which has not yet provided a statement.
Previously they told us they consider Sajuti an ICE fugitive for not following the judge’s order.