Former Fulbright scholar leaving sanctuary after 598 days

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A former Fulbright scholar who has been fighting deportation to his native Indonesia is leaving the sanctuary of a Connecticut church after 598 days.

Sujitno Sajuti has been living inside Meriden’s Unitarian Universalist church with his wife, Dahlia, since being ordered by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in 2017 to board a plane.

Rev. Jan Carlsson-Bull, the church’s minister, wrote to supporters Thursday saying that ICE officials have informed the 70-year-old Sajuti that they are no longer seeking his deportation.

“The process and the outcome remind us again that the march for justice is a marathon not a sprint,” Carlsson-Bull wrote.

Sajuti came to the United States in 1981 on a Fulbright Scholarship, earning advanced degrees from Columbia University and the University of Connecticut. The West Hartford resident overstayed his student visa and remained in the United States.

He has said he has registered with immigration officials since 2001.

Sajuti filed an appeal of the deportation order and a motion to stay the deportation last July.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said ICE has granted what is known as deferred action, a decision not to remove an individual from the United States. The decision lasts indefinitely, but can be reversed at any time.

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