Silver Spring Man Arrested By ICE, May Be Deported

A Silver Spring man who has been living with his family on the grounds of Glenmont United Methodist Church was detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Sept. 10 and may be deported to his native Indonesia.

Binsar Siahaan, 52, has been in the United States since 1989. His wife has been here since 1994. She was a Muslim but converted to Christianity and has been denounced by her family because of that. The couple have two children, ages 14 and 16.

“He is really genteel, entirely devoted to his family and to his church,” said Pastor Kara Scroggins. “It is just so clear to me how central the church and his kids are.”

He is always the first to help out, she said, noting that on Labor Day, he helped carry six shopping carts of school supplies the church had gathered for Manna. Siahaan currently is in Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Ga. awaiting detention. “He feels very lost and scared,” Scroggins said. He has asked the church to take care of his family if he is deported, she said.

He came to America on a A-3 Visa to work as a driver for the Indonesian Embassy and has since been a cook, newspaper deliverer and a handyman painting houses. His wife came under the same Visa program to work as a nanny for families of diplomats. The couple both overstayed their visas, which expired almost three decades ago.

In 2004, Sukemi applied for asylum on religious persecution grounds but was denied as he waited too long from the time his Visa had expired. His appeal that was heard in 2005 also was denied. Since 2012, he has checked in for his regular immigration hearings. In February of this year, he was detained for six weeks, before being released on April 3, Scroggins said.

On Sept. 10, Pastor Scroggins received a call at 7 a.m. from ICE., letting her know they were coming to take Siahaan to the local immigration field office. He has been in custody ever since.

According to an ICE spokesperson, Siahaan, “an unlawfully present Indonesian national,” was arrested at his residence “after he received full due process in the nation’s immigration courts.”

Siahaan’s order of removal in 2005 “has been upheld through multiple appeals,” the spokesperson said. Siahaan has been part of the agency’s Alternatives to Detention program and has been wearing a GPS ankle monitor since April 2020.

Although Siahaan has been living at his home on the grounds of the church, he had not sought sanctuary there. According to ICE, “Barring exigent circumstances, officers should not conduct enforcement actions at sensitive locations.” ICE considers places of worship a sensitive location.

Before moving to the church property, Siahaan lived with his family in an apartment on Georgia Avenue, about a mile from Glenmont United Methodist Church. He has been active in the church for six years and helps out there. The church cannot hire him but instead charges him only $25 a month to live there.

His attorney, Elsy Ramos Velasquez, has filed a motion to block Siahaan’s deportation. A hearing is set for Oct. 2 in Baltimore.

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Suzanne Pollak

About Suzanne Pollak

Suzanne is a freelance reporter with Montgomery Community Media. She has over 35 years professional experience writing for newspapers, magazines, non-profit newsletters and the web.


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