This piece, initially created as a project for a Documentary Photography course, was published online in Connecticut's The Record Journal on May 24, 2018.
Sujitno Sajuti, 69, first came to the United States as a Fulbright Scholar from Indonesia in 1981. After receiving two master's degrees here—one at Columbia University and one at UConn—he was on the path to a PhD in Medical Anthropology, when UConn cut off his funding. With only a student visa, Sajuti wasn't legally permitted to work, making it difficult to fill the sudden financial void. His next blow came when his dissertation advisor took an early retirement. When his student visa expired in 1996, Sajuti applied for a green card, hoping to stay in the U.S. until he could complete his doctorate program. But due to the immigration politics at the time, his application was denied, a deportation notice sent with it. Since then, Sajuti has fought for multiple deportation stays and work permits, equipped with years of community service and powerful friends in his city of West Hartford, Connecticut. Working as a homeschool teacher and a tutor, he is said to have bumped students up a whole grade level in just three months. Fall of 2017 though, this home was no longer safe. ICE had come to deport him. He and his wife, Dalia, moved into a small office in a church 30 minutes away—Meriden's Unitarian Universalist Church. Unable to leave the building out of fear of deportation, the couple now has a new idea of home.
In May, Ramadan begins. During this period, they fast, often in large groups. Sujitno and Dalia hope to be back in their West Hartford apartment so they can host their friends and community members.