JT came to the US as a 25 year old from Kerala, India. After 2 years of college, in order to help support his family, he went to work in Saudi Arabia in 2011 for 2 years fixing computers, phones, and satellite dishes. After his work visa expired, JT returned to his village and was very involved with the Kerala Catholic Youth Movement. In December 2014, men that supported the Hindu Nationalist Party disrupted a religious celebration and attempted to kill him and fellow youth activists. JT was stabbed in the back. A friend lost one eye and was paralyzed on one side and rendered unable to speak. JT had to identify the attackers in person to the police, after which he received death threats. He went into hiding and after obtaining a visa to the US, he sought asylum here in December 2015 and was detained at the Elizabeth Detention Center until May, 2016, when he was granted asylum and released from detention. After less than a year and multiple part-time jobs, he now has a good job and is ready to live independently.
PL, an Ethiopian professor with a MA degree in mathematics, entered the US near Hidalgo Texas and asked for political asylum. He was accused of being a member of an armed rebellious resistance when he refused his government’s demand to teach about their achievements in his mathematics classes at Fasiledes Comprehensive Secondary School. Armed members of the People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front took him to prison where he was beaten and detained for 6 months in a cell without visits or supplies from family. After being attacked by another cell-mate, he was released and stayed with a friend until he could leave the country. From Mar. 2016 to May 2016, he was held at the Elizabeth Detention Center until released with a $1500 bond raised by First Friends of NJ and NY. PC has applied for asylum and has been working successfully as a volunteer teacher of mathematics at a local university, hoping to be hired in the near future.
YD, deported with his family from Ethiopia to Eritrea during the Eritrean-Ethiopian War in 1999, was, interrogated, imprisoned, and tortured over the next 6 years by Eritrean security forces which mistakenly believed he was an Ethiopian spy because of his ethnic heritage. This caused him to miss out on higher education. After escaping during transport by the security forces in 2005, YD fled to Sudan for 4 years, South Sudan for 3 years, and then Kenya in 2012 for 2 years. During these years, he became fluent in English and became an excellent car mechanic, but in each country, he faced harassment, beatings and extortion as an immigrant, and eventually fled to South America, whence he crossed into Texas through Mexico, and was discovered in 2014 at the Elizabeth Detention Center by First Friends. Since his release on a bail bond, the NNJSC found a home for him with a couple living in Englewood, NJ. YD proceeded to obtain his GED from Bergen Community College and automobile and truck driving licences, all while holding a full-time job in NYC. In early 2016, he was able to live on his own and be self-supporting while working for a trucking company. He has just received asylum and is looking forward to a new phase of independence in this country.
Rachelle had been a graduate student at a university in her native African country and had received degrees in business law and human rights when the government detained her because of her activism to improve student conditions. The government released her, then detained her again. A friend helped her to escape. She went into hiding and eventually, under harrowing circumstances, escaped to this country. When she came to us, she had no means of support. A member of our committee offered her a place to live in her home, and the committee helped her with her English, on how to apply for a job, and gave her computer classes and social opportunities. The happy ending is after some time she became engaged to a young man from her native country, married him and is now employed and lives in Canada.
Northern New Jersey Sanctuary Coalition – 687 Larch Avenue, Teaneck, NJ 07666