Law & Justice

Edison, Highland Park Immigrants Say Their Passports Were Stolen During Weekend Break-In

Vigil in front of the Highland Park Reformed Church on the morning of Sunday, Jan. 28. Credits: Daniel J. Munoz

HIGHLAND PARK, NJ - Two Indonesian immigrants seeking sanctuary in the Reformed Church of Highland Park say several of their passports were stolen during a pair of break-ins this past weekend.

“This does not make sense,” said Arthur Jemmy of Edison, one of the residents whose apartment was broken into. The passports of Arthur and his wife, Sofia, were taken. They were both issued by Indonesia.

Harry Pangemanan, whose house on Friday evening was found ransacked and vandalized, reported that the Indonesian passports of his wife and U.S. citizen daughter were also taken.

Sign Up for E-News

Rev. Seth Kaper-Dale, who heads the church, said he first heard about the stolen passports Thursday morning, just a week after Pangemanan took sanctuary in the church.

Kaper-Dale, an immigrants rights activists, has been offering sanctuary for Jemmy, Pangemanan and a third man, Yohanes Tasik of Woodbridge.

All three men have final deportation orders from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. They have said that as Christians, they fear religious persecution should they be sent back to the Muslim-majority country.'

Jemmy had been in the church since October 2017, Tasik since mid-January and Pangemanan since Jan. 25. Pangemanan’s arrival at the church prompted visits of support from Congressman Frank Pallone, Gov. Phil Murphy and other elected officials.

On the day that ICE agents tried, unsuccessfully, to detain Pangemanan, they managed to nab two others: Gunawan Liem of Franklin Park and Roby Sanger of Metuchen

The break-in’s are believed to have happened within 24 hours. 

Kaper-Dale, after hearing the reports that the passports were stolen, headed to both men’s places of residence to confirm the news.

“A whole pile of passports were still there, all of the ones who are expired,” Kaper-Dale said. “But the two passports from the family that were valid travel documents, were gone.”

Kaper-Dale noted that whoever broke into the Edison apartment and Highland Park house would had to have known to look for valid travel documents and what they looked like.

“It seems way more sinister, at least to me,” Kaper-Dale said.

The pastor, during a Thursday afternoon press conference, doubled-down on his claim that federal immigration officials conducted the break-ins as some type of warrantless raid.

“Unless the criminals who went in, knew exactly to go for unexpired travel documents, the people who went in that house, they were trained to look for unexpired travel documents, and I would suspect that those are people who are somehow connected with the knowledge that such a thing would be helpful in the hands of ICE,” Kaper-Dale said.

A spokesperson for ICE said the reverends' allegations were ‘patently false.”

“To suggest that they would cause intentional harm to property is irresponsible and spreads undue fear in the community which this individual claims to support,” said Jennifer D. Elzea, a press secretary for ICE.

Kaper-Dale suggested that if the passports managed to find their way to ICE, it would massively expedite the process of removing Jemmy and Pangemanan from the country.

“In order for ICE to send someone away, they need a travel document, so often when they detain someone, they request that document from the consulate and then once they get that document, they can send that person away,” Kaper-Dale explained.

The reverend added: “But it’s a lot faster if you break into the house and steal the valid travel document so that once you detain someone, you can send them away immediately.”

Arthur admitted he was unsettled by the thought that his passport had fallen into the hands of federal immigration agents.

ICE officials said they didn't have any passports of the two men. 

But in the meantime, the three Indonesian men plan to stay put in the sanctuary, however long that could be.

Earlier on Thursday, several dozen Highland Park and New Brunswick residents packed into one of the main lounges for a planning meeting of the Detention and Immigration Response to Emergency Team (DIRE), on how to help the three men and prevent similar ICE arrests from happening.

A few days earlier, dozens of community activists gathered in front of the Reformed Church for a vigil to show solidarity for the three men.

TAPinto New Brunswick is partnering with ProPublica to track hate crimes in the region. The partnership is part of a nationwide project to track and report bias incidents across the country.

Editor Daniel J. Munoz,

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

New Brunswick

The Jaffe Briefing - May 21, 2018

The Jaffe Briefing will not publish from Thursday through Monday. A great Memorial Day to all!

STATEWIDE - Should public school students be allowed to attend schools in other towns? That's the big, controversial question in a lawsuit filed against the state that looks to end what some consider to be the worst school segregation in the nation. The ...

The Jaffe Briefing - May 18, 2018


IN COURT - Sounds like a cheesy thing to do, but the NJ Turnpike Authority has gone to court for years trying to stop a pizzeria chain whose logo is suspiciously similar to our beloved Garden State Parkway sign. Sure, nobody wants drivers searching for an on-ramp to end ...

The Jaffe Briefing - May 17, 2018


MOUNTAINSIDE - Oh, where to begin describing this 46-page lawsuit against two Mountainside cops? A detective sergeant placing his testicles on co-workers' food. And throwing poop-smeared toilet tissue at them. And defecating in someone's boots. And taunting with a dildo dubbed "Big Blue" he liked to wave in cops' faces, as he chased ...

The Jaffe Briefing - May 16, 2018


ATLANTIC CITY - Happy days are here again, as the state's once gasping gaming resort is expecting sports betting will rake in $150 million to $175 million a year in new, glorious profits - courtesy of your pals on the U.S. Supreme Court. Moreover, ecstatic Stockton University officials believe, this recharged gambling mecca will bring in a whole new ...

The Jaffe Briefing - May 15, 2018


STATEWIDE - This. Changes. Everything. Legal sports betting is finally taking its rightful place in New Jersey, with the U.S. Supreme Court throwing out this dumb federal ban that has lasted for more than 25 years and has cost New Jersey billions of dollars in wasted opportunity. Places like the Atlantic City casinos and the racetracks will suddenly ...

The Jaffe Briefing - May 14, 2018


TRENTON - If you are a 16-year-old kid, absolutely convinced you have the maturity to make a life-long commitment, now's the time to get married. That's because state officials are poised to ban child marriage, ending the horrid practice of children as young as 16 getting hitched. NJ 101.5 reports there have been 200 such marriages ...

Rutgers Athletics Signs Dyehard Fan Supply to New Multi-Year Agreement

May 21, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ -  Rutgers Athletics has selected Dyehard Fan Supply, an event and retail merchandise marketing and e-commerce company, as the official merchandising partner for the Scarlet Knights in a new multi-year agreement.Dyehard will handle game day and event merchandising for Rutgers Athletics.

“We’re excited to expand gameday merchandising options and elevate ...

Newark man given 22-year sentence for kidnapping, sexual asault of Rutgers student

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - A Newark man was sentenced Friday to 22 years in prison for the 2016 kidnapping and sexual assault of a Rutgers University student on the school campus in New Brunswick.

Michael Knight, 40, of Newark must serve at least 85 percent of his sentence before he is eligible for parole, Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey said in a statement today.

Superior Court Judge ...

Rutgers center battles noise pollution nationwide

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ  - Eric Zwerling got a call this week from a man was living next to a fitness center, complaining he repeatedly heard the loud thud heavy free weights and medicine balls hit the floor.

The man was recovering from having a pace maker in his chest and wondering of the impact of the noise from the gym.

“I’ve received thousands of calls,” said Zwerling, ...

Police Investigate Rabbit "Tale"

May 11, 2018

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Local cops are investigating an incident of ‘theft by deception’ involving the Plainfield Animal Hospital. 

According to the incident report filed by Officer Justin Melanson and obtained by TAPinto, residents of South Plainfield took their pet rabbit to the Park Avenue animal hospital on April 4 to be euthanized due to advanced ...


Here's How to Help Protect Young Athletes from Injury: Let Them Play Multiple Sports

May 1, 2018

Dear TAPInto New Brunswick:

One of the responsibilities that parents take most seriously is protecting their children from injury, whether it is buckling seat belts in a car or wearing a helmet while riding a bike. And when their kids become teenagers and want to participate in sports or other activities, parents do everything they can to keep their sons and daughters from getting ...

Golf & Canasta/Mah-Jongg/Board Game Classic on May 20th

May 13, 2018

         The Daniel Pearl Education Center (DPEC), an East Brunswick-based charitable organization that sponsors a wide range of community outreach programs, is hosting its fifth annual Golf Classic on Sunday, May 20 at the Cranbury Golf Club.
          In addition to the golf tournament, there will also be an ...