A married Philadelphia couple’s detention by Immigration and Customs Enforcement that sparked a viral Facebook post and Inquirer opinion piece by a friend are now awaiting deportation after having lived in America for 20 years, the Notebook reports.
According to the Notebook, the couple, identified as Elly and Fnu, have been sent to two separate detention centers, Elly in York and Fnu in Pike County.
Their saga has gained attention since a friend, Stockton University professor Elisa von Joeden-Forgey, wrote about her efforts to get information about the Indonesian couple while they were being held at the ICE office in Center City Philadelphia.
Their immigration attorney, Christopher Casazza, told the Notebook that ICE was moving to deport the two as fast as possible.
The piece noted before the more-strict policies enforced under President Donald Trump, parents of minor U.S. citizens were often allowed to stay in the country.
The couple has two daughters, both U.S. citizens and one a minor.
Reporting religious discrimination (the couple is Catholic), the two fled to the United States seeking political asylum in 1999. But in 2007 their petition was denied, and an appeal was denied in 2009.
“Indonesians are particularly vulnerable to deportation orders because, despite the continued harassment and sometime violence in their country against ethnic Chinese and Christians, many of them have been denied asylum,” the Notebook reported.
Although they were ordered to return to Indonesia, the family decided to stay after building a life in America and obtaining jobs.
As she detailed in the Inquirer, Forgey advocated for them at the Philly ICE office, and described being able to receive very little information regarding the case. She said she worked with Elly’s brother to find their lawyer, spent time with the couple’s college-aged daughter, and waited at the office with her husband.
“We sat for a bit, but soon realized that we were sitting there with no goal and no hope,” she wrote.