Kalsum Pangkey, a 56-year-old undocumented immigrant from Indonesia, went to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office on April 25 to report that she was ready to leave the U.S. and pay her way back to her country.
The authorities locked her in detention, where she remains. She had gone to the ICE office to say she would voluntarily depart and asked for a stay of deportation for a few months to arrange for the move.
“She told them she has the money, she wanted to pay the ticket, and the government still kept her,” said her nephew, Arthur Jemmy, 36, who also fled Indonesia. “That’s terrible.”
She entered United States in year 1977 on Visitor Visa for six month period from Indonesia, she did not applied to extend the existing visa or even missed to apply for asylum. Reason for overstaying her visa was to send money to her family in Indonesia for few month.
She fled to United States from Indonesia because of the violence against ethnic Chinese Christians and others, many entered but failed to apply asylum within the eligibility period.
When immigration agents told her she would be detained, she and a friend immediately tried to call an airline to arrange a flight back to Indonesia, hoping Pangkey could avoid ICE custody.
Pangkey decided to take a free trip after the detention in ICE custody, but even after nine days she is still in custody without any criminal record. Big disappointment for Pangkey because few of the fellow six Indonesians were deported and two went on by own to Indonesia.
Kaper-Dale said cases like Pangkey’s make him question whether ICE is focused on removing people who pose a U.S. threat.
“What it shows us is that any thought that there is a case-by-case reality to this has sort of gone out the window,” Kaper-Dale said. “When somebody who is ready to leave and comes in showing the money that she’s ready to leave is still sent away, that suggests to us that at this point we can’t really work with ICE.”