Rev. Sandra Pontoh

Rev. Pontoh banned from immigrant family support

On June 5 officials in the New Hampshire Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office disappointingly barred Rev. Sandra Pontoh from accompanying Indonesian families during their check-ins. Immigrants living in the United States must check-in with ICE upon demand, with the frequency of check-ins increasing substantially since 2017.

Rev. Sandra provided translation between English and Indonesian during the meetings. After more than a year of serving in this way she was abruptly turned away.

In a follow-up letter sent to ICE, US Senator Jeanne Shaheen wrote:

It’s imperative that federal officials provide immediate answers as to why religious leaders are being barred from public federal buildings. Clergy have been providing pastoral and interpreter services to the Indonesian community and shouldn’t be obstructed from continuing those services.

The Immigrant Solidarity Network, supported by many NH Council of Churches congregations, will prayerfully determine their next actions in concert with other partner organizations. So far, media coverage included:

  1. Dave Solomon, Union Leader, Shaheen protests ICE decision to ban clergy from Manchester federal building during immigration hearings
  2. Siobahn Lopez, WMUR, Advocate for Indonesian immigrants barred from translating at ICE hearings
  3. John Doyle, Foster’s Daily Democrat, Indonesian helpers, clergy banned from ICE office
  4. Brian MacQuarrie, Boston Globe, Federal officials bar immigrant advocates, translator from government building