Joel Massie came home from school last week only to realize something was different. His father was no longer around.
Arino Massie, of Metuchen, New Jersey, was deported back to his native country of Indonesia, a place he fled 16 years ago because of religious persecution.
Now Joel is going to grow up without a father in the U.S., where he was born. He still finds it hard to accept this.
“He’s been with me for 13 years, because I was born with him, of course. And for those 13 years, he’s been kind, happy and loving,” Joel told WPIX TV. “It’s been sad, stressing. We’ve been fighting for the past week and a half to stay.”
Arino Massie is a Chinese Christian who lived in Indonesia, but missed a deadline to apply for amnesty shortly after his arrival in the U.S.
After he overstayed his tourist visa, Massie was ordered to leave the country in 2006. However, the Reformed Church of Highland Park struck a deal with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to allow him three other Indonesian-born Christians stays of removal if they checked in with ICE every year.
But this year ICE took the men into custody, and on May 18 an immigration judge ordered that Massie and the others be deported, according to News12.com.
A spokesperson for ICE released this statement:
Arino Massie, who was a visa overstay, was ordered removed on July 17, 2006 by an immigration judge with the Department of Justice’s Executive Office of Immigration Review. After exhausting all legal remedies, on May 18, 2017, ICE Enforcement and Removal Officers removed Arino Massie to Indonesia.
Frederick Rattu, a friend of Massie’s who came to the U.S. from Indonesia in 1994 with a tourist visa and became a legal resident a few years later, worries about what might happen to Massie when he to Indonesia.
“Can you imagine someone applying for asylum and then going back to Indonesia? How are they going to treat him,” Rattu told USA Today.
The newspaper notes that Massie is one of 41,000 suspected undocumented immigrants who were arrested during President Donald Trump’s first 100 days. That’s a 40 percent increase from the same period last year.
The Trump administration has broadened the scope of those subject to deportation to include people such as Massie, who don’t have criminal records.
That’s a misuse of resources, according to Rev. Seth Kaper-Dale, of the Reformed Church of Highland Park.
“There’s no reason to send him away right now; he’s absolutely not a criminal. These are family people who happen to have final deportation orders,” Kaper-Dale told the Associated Press. “Our folks got caught up in that new dragnet.”
An immigration attorney is arguing to legal authorities that Massie needs to come back to America to be with his son, Joel.
He may have a harder time explaining what’s happening to Joel.
“What I don’t understand is why he’s being deported,” Joel told News12.com. “He’s been cooperative. He hasn’t done anything against the law. He has a clear record.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.