Indonesian Family Wants Asylum To Protect Deaf Son
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
May 18, 2006
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA--A family of Indonesian immigrants is anxiously waiting to hear whether an appeals court will consider allowing them to stay in the United States in order to protect their deaf son from persecution in the country they fled.
Beni Tan and his wife, Kiem Kartadjaja, have been in the U.S. trying to gain political asylum since 2003 after fleeing from violent riots in Indonesia. They later sent for their sons Jeremy, 7, and Joshua Tantoro, 9, who is deaf.
The couple claims that when Joshua attended an Indonesian preschool other parents would not allow their children to play with him. When he later went to a specialized school, teachers put him in classrooms with children that had other disabilities, but who were not deaf. He never learned to communicate, his mother said.
"The teachers forced him to read their lips, never teach him sign language," Kartadjaja told the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Since coming to the U.S., Joshua has been learning sign language. He is now beginning to tell about other ways he was mistreated while in Indonesia.
"In Indonesia, if he see someone else he don't know, he'll run and hide. Now, instead of running, he'll introduce himself," his mother added.
"He's not ashamed anymore of who he is."
Joshua's father is currently in the York County jail awaiting deportation.
The couple fears that if they are not granted asylum, they would they face persecution as ethnic Chinese Christians, but Joshua would be shunned -- or worse.
The family's attorney, Joseph Hohenstein, filed an asylum petition on April 27 with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia. Hohenstein asked for an emergency stay in order to allow Mr. Tan to remain in the country for the time being, and for an immigration judge to hear the case.
"A last plea for clemency for a young, deaf immigrant" (Philadelphia Inquirer)