CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu has sent a letter to President Donald Trump asking that his administration reconsider its decision to deport nearly 70 Indonesians who lost their bid to remain in the U.S. and fear persecution if returned home.
The Republican governor said through a 2010 program that Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen helped develop, the Indonesians have been allowed to stay. They have to check in with immigration officials, but in recent months, many have been told to buy airline tickets to return to Indonesia. A federal judge in Boston has put that on hold.
In his letter dated Friday, Sununu wrote people such as the Indonesians, who have made an honest attempt to navigate the legal process, who have a valid claim for asylum, and who have come forward to work with authorities “should not be on the front line for deportation.”
Sununu wrote the families have become an integral part of their neighborhoods, schools and churches and they seek to practice their Christian faith without fear of persecution. Many of their children are American citizens.
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“While I firmly believe that we must take steps to curb illegal immigration, it is also imperative that we make the process for legal immigration more streamlined and practical,” Sununu wrote. He said the Indonesians who came to this country met “with the burdensome and confusing requirements that accompany the asylum process.”
It wasn’t immediately known if the Trump administration responded. Trump has taken a tough stance against illegal immigration, saying he needs to keep the country safe.
Hundreds of Christians fled Indonesia between 1996 and 2003, when churches were destroyed by anti-Christian extremists in the majority Muslim country. The U.S. government allowed many to enter the country on tourist visas after the fall of the regime of dictator Suharto.