By Brenda Flanagan
About 300 supporters rallied around DREAMer Carimer Andujar as she arrived to keep her appointment at the ICE deportation office in Newark. With her DACA paperwork lapsed and pending renewal, the 21-year-old Rutgers chemical engineering major welcomed the crowd.
“I didn’t sleep last night. I am a bit nervous. I am so grateful for all the support that I have, but there’s still like lingering doubt something might happen,” she said.
At age 4, Andujar moved with her mom to Passaic from the Dominican Republic. On campus, she’s been an outspoken advocate for unauthorized immigrants — despite concerns that spotlight might draw attention from ICE, which ordered her to report today.
“People realize that, you know, I could be your friend or your classmate or your neighbor and that most of us don’t fulfill the stereotypes that are implored against us,” she said.
“When they ask us why we’re out here, why we’re supporting Carimer, well, why are you creating unjust policies? Why are you not supporting sanctuary cities, sanctuary states? Why are you not helping us? Because we are the backbone of this country,” said UndocuRutgers Vice President Josue Serrano.
Andujar went inside, as defiant speakers criticized the president’s immigration crackdown. Among her supporters — Catalino Guerrero, an unauthorized Union City immigrant who appealed his deportation and won a year-long stay a couple months ago. ICE is now enforcing U.S. immigration laws far more aggressively, trumping the Obama-era rules that targeted serious criminals and gangs.
As ICE Field Director John Tsoukaris explained, “Any individual that we encounter that’s in the United States in violation of law is subject to arrest and placement in removal proceedings.”
“As a minister of a church I’m not supposed to want to talk about hate, but I hate this place! I hate it! I hate everything it stands for! This place right here is racial and ethnic cleansing, American-style,” said Pastor Seth Kaper-Dale.
Kaper-Dale — who’s also New Jersey’s Green Party candidate for governor — says ICE swooped in yesterday and detained four Indonesian Christians, men who fled political persecution and overstayed their U.S. visas. Denied asylum, they’ve lived precariously in New Jersey for 20 years, with help from Kaper-Dale’s sanctuary ministry. One called the pastor as ICE took them to the Elizabeth Detention Center.
“And he just said, ‘Tell my wife I love her.’ So that was the last I heard from them,” he said.
Congressman Frank Pallone sent ICE a letter about the four men and stated, “…every year, they checked in with ICE and had their stayed renewed. Now, they are the collateral damage of the Trump administration’s inflexible, extreme and discriminatory policies on immigration.” Pallone urged compassion.
ICE said in a statement, it “…provides all those in removal proceedings with an opportunity to apply and be considered for relief from removal.” ICE also said meetings like Andujar’s depend “…on many factors including, but not limited to, pending appeals or petitions, issuance of travel documents or awaiting to go before an immigration judge.”
Andujar emerged to cheers, a couple hours later.
“I’m happy that I get to go home to my mom, to my home. I’m happy I get to continue my studies. I’m happy I get to continue advocating for the rights of undocumented people everywhere. I’m happy this is my home. I’m happy all of you came out,” she said.
Andujar’s DACA paperwork is still pending renewal. Meanwhile there’s a vigil scheduled tonight for the four Indonesians in detainment.