U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents attempted to arrest three fathers on Thursday who were preparing to drop off their children for school in Middlesex County, New Jersey, WPIX-TV reported.
Two of the fathers were arrested by ICE officials. A third father managed to find sanctuary inside a church when he realized ICE officials were in cars outside of his home. The man called an area pastor and was able to find sanctuary before being arrested.
WPIX reported that the three men entered the United States in the 1990s from Indonesia in an attempt to escape violence against Christians there. All three fathers' children were born in the United States, thus making the children US citizens.
Harry Pangemanan, the man who escaped being arrested, was reportedly honored last week by the Borough of Highland Park for his volunteer efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, which devastated New Jersey in 2012.
Pangemanan now is taking sanctuary with other immigrants who are in the United States unlawfully.
“We are just here trying to achieve our dreams, working hard, provide for our family,” Pangemanan told WPIX.
The pastor of the Reformed Church of Highland Park said ICE officials have rounded up others in his community.
“We had one night when 35 dads were taken in one night from Avenel, New Jersey, from the same apartment complex. I had 60 kids become orphans that night or become fatherless,” Rev. Seth Kaper-Dale told WPIX.
NJ.com that the men had one-year stays on deportation. Although one of the men had their stay expire on Tuesday, the two other men were supposed to have another month before checking in with ICE officials.
Gunawan Liem and Roby Sanger are both being held in a county jail. It is unknown who the children are staying with.