Support Grows for West Hartford Man Detained By Immigration Officials

Feb 14, 2012

***UPDATE: Sujito Sajuti was released Friday, February 17. Immigration attorney, Rafael Pichardo says Sajuti was granted a stay of deportation meaning he can stay as long as he checks in with ICE on a regular basis. He was also granted a work authorization so he can be lawfully employed in Connecticut. Pichardo says Sajuti is looking forward to seeing his wife again. They've been apart for two months. LN

FEB.14, 2012  Last year, U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that it would prioritize the deportation of illegal immigrants deemed dangerous. But the agency continues to take action against individuals with no criminal record other than their expired residency status. WNPR’s Lucy Nalpathanchil reports on a 63-year old West Hartford resident who now faces possible deportation. 

Sujitno Sajuti came to the United States from Indonesia in the 1980s as an exchange student. He studied at Columbia University and the University of Connecticut and eventually married. But sometime between his arrival and 2011, his visa expired and immigration officials ordered Sajuti to voluntarily leave. Like many immigrants, he decided to stay hoping there was a way to apply for renewed status. But his time ran out in December when ICE arrested him. Immigration attorney Rafael Pichardo says Sajuti is being detained in Massachusetts and could be returned to Indonesia at any moment.

"Just as of last Wednesday, Mr Sajuti spoke with his attorney and close friends stating that his deportation officer was almost set to place him on a flight to Indonesia."

Pichardo says Sajuti is a community man and well respected in West Hartford's religious community. A group of students and faith groups held a press conference about the situation on Tuesday. Pichardo says they're asking ICE to make an exception

"If you look at Sujitno's profile, he's never even been arrested in this country. In his case, he wasn't able to get into another program that would continue his exchange visa."

If Sajuti is deported, it would be a number of years before he could apply to return. Pichardo says that means Sajuti would be separated from his wife. So now they wait to hear from ICE on whether an application for a stay of removal will be granted. That would allow Sajuti to remain here indefinitely. Supporters have also asked members of Connecticut's congressional delegation to intervene on Sajuti's behalf.

For WNPR I'm Lucy Nalpathanchil