Gov. Phil Murphy broke the news and then dashed to the Reform Church of Highland Park. There, Harry Pangemanan, who came from Indonesia 24 years ago, had taken sanctuary in the church. Harry just received a Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award for helping to restore 200 superstorm Sandy damaged houses. Harry has final deportation orders to leave the country. Thursday morning, ICE came to lock him up.
“I was ready to get my daughters to school, she’s sitting next to me, I tried to pull out from the driveway. And I saw an unmarked car starting to move forward. And then somehow I just drove back into the driveway, leaving the car running, and jumped out and got into the house right away. From the house, I called my daughter sitting in the passenger side and said ‘Honey, please walk to school,'” said Pangemanan.
Then he called his pastor, former Green Party gubernatorial candidate Seth Kaper-Dale who was four blocks away. He came and saw a Ford Explorer with tinted windows.
“He was parked again, around the corner from the house. I pulled up next to him, rolled down the window and he drove away. As soon as he drove away the second time, I called Harry and said, ‘Quick, get in my car. We’re going to the church,'” said Kaper-Dale.
Kaper-Dale went back to Harry’s house and recorded agents at the door.
“I came back past his house and ICE was at the door of the house, banging on every door of that house,” said Kaper-Dale.
The pastor says agents surprised two other parishioners this morning and they’re now in the Essex County Jail.
“Simultaneous attacks by ICE in three different locations. So John Tsoukaris, the field office director, is particularly cruel and that’s what’s happening in New Jersey right now,” Kaper-Dale said. “We’ve been working endlessly to prepare motions to reopen for all these individuals.”
Harry says his wife has been ordered to leave the United States as well. He says they’re Christians who fear going back to a now-Muslim country. They have two children, 11 and 15, born here. If they’re both deported, he says “You’ll be the ones to pick up the bills.”
Murphy prayed with the church and offered moral support.
“I’m going to Trenton right now to meet with my team and try and think through what our options are. This is an extraordinary stuff we’re talking about here,” Murphy said.
NJTV News is awaiting a comment from ICE.
Harry will take up sanctuary in the church, but knows that just on the other side of the door ICE agents could be waiting to take him.