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Shaheen attends prayer vigil at ICE offices

New Hampshire Union Leader

September 08. 2017 8:45PM

MANCHESTER — U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., visited a prayer vigil outside Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices on Friday and sat in with two Indonesian families as they discussed their deportation with ICE officials.

“I thought it was important to see directly the situation they’re in and talk to people in ICE about it,” Shaheen said in an interview.

ICE has slated several dozen Indonesians who live in the Seacoast area for deportation and instructed them to purchase airline departure tickets. Two Indonesian families visited ICE offices on Friday to show proof of their departure plans.

Shaheen accompanied them during their appointment, she said. She also spoke to ICE officials at the Manchester office on Friday. Previously, she had spoken to acting Homeland Security Director Elaine Duke.

Shaheen said they tell her they can do nothing about the deportation orders.

“It’s clearly coming from the President, his executive order,” Shaheen said. In February, President Donald Trump issued an executive order regarding immigration and deportations.

Shaheen said she continues to explore options to address the Indonesian deportations, including legislative options. Shaheen also said Congress needs to address more than Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) when it takes up immigration.

“I hope this will involve overall immigration reform. We certainly need it,” Shaheen said.

Shaheen’s visit was welcomed by about 40 activists and faith leaders who have pledged to hold vigils whenever illegal immigrants are scheduled to check in with ICE.

“I couldn’t have been happier (with Shaheen’s appearance),” said Sara Jane Knoy, director of the Granite State Organizing Project, which is involved in the vigils.

Shaheen said the families were fleeing persecution when they moved to New Hampshire in the 1990s, and the situation has only grown worse in the country. Those now in trouble with ICE often heeded bad advice when it came to their immigration status.

Meanwhile, they hold down jobs, own homes and have children who are citizens, she said.

“To send them back doesn’t seem consistent with the values of America,” Shaheen said.

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