A New Jersey pastor suggested that alleged damage to two homes of immigrants without legal status was the work of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The administration has denied the charge. John Moore/GETTY

Three immigrants without legal status taking refuge at a church claimed that their New Jersey houses have been ransacked in recent days.

Harry Pangemanan, an Indonesian immigrant without legal status, entered into refuge at the Reformed Church of Highland Park on Thursday after being investigated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for being in the country illegally.

Pangemanan’s daughters went to their father’s home with a volunteer Friday night to find the house ransacked. Pangemanan’s daughters claim that their Highland Park house had its door frame crushed and that personal items had been thrown all over their bedrooms.

Two other refuge seekers at the church, Arthur Jemmy and Silfia Tobing, claim that their home in Edison was also ransacked. They learned about the damage Saturday.

“Whoever did this one, they [did] not just do the damage to me, but I just want to make it known to everyone that they did damage to Americans' lives,” said Pangemanan to the Asbury Park Press. “They started destroying my children's lives.”

Highland Park and Edison Police did not immediately respond to International Business Times’ request for comment.

Ammos Caley, an associate pastor who saw the damage to Pangemanan's house on Friday, told the Asbury Park Press that it was “completely turned upside down” and that there was some cash missing.

Pangemanan spotted what he believed to be ICE officers Thursday morning outside his home just before bringing his daughter to school. He claims he evaded arrest and sought refuge at the church. The church’s pastor, Rev. Seth Kaper-Dale, is an outspoken advocate for immigrants and drove Pangemanan to the church.

In a Facebook post, Kaper-Dale suggested that ICE might be behind the damage.

“I believe that this is coordinated attacks by ICE —the abusive arm of our out of control administration. Please share this news. Two of the families in sanctuary have had their homes broken into and ransacked while they have been in sanctuary. Abuse, abuse, abuse… [President Donald] Trump, gets your filthy hands off our people,” said Kaper-Dale.

ICE denied any role in the vandalism.

“If true, these reports of vandalism are unfortunate; however, to suggest that ICE law enforcement officers were involved in such an incident is patently false. ICE law enforcement officers carry out their sworn duties daily with the utmost professionalism, in accordance with their training. To suggest that they would cause intentional harm to property is irresponsible and spreads undue fear in the community which this individual claims to support,” said Jennifer Elzea, a press secretary for the agency, in a statement to IBT.

The incident comes amid a national debate on immigration that in part was responsible for a government shutdown that began last Saturday and ended Monday. President Trump has pushed for stricter immigration policies and border security in return for a solution for recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The program created by former president Barack Obama protected undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children from deportation. Trump ended the program with the expectation that Congress would devise a solution.

Jemmy, Tobing and Pangemanan are not DACA recipients but are affected by a focus on immigration enforcement under the Trump administration. Two other ICE arrests Thursday in New Jersey caused an outcry from state politicians. Gunawan Liem of Franklin Park and Roby Sanger of Metuchen were arrested by ICE immediately after dropping their daughters off for school on suspicion of being in the country illegally.

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal wrote an open letter Friday to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen expressing his concerns over the arrests.

“The fact that ICE arrested two parents as they were driving away from their children’s school is deeply upsetting. I am not aware of any exigent or unique circumstances here that would justify such a departure from ICE’s settled policy on sensitive locations,” wrote Grewal.

Gov. Phil Murphy also expressed sympathy for the immigrants Friday at a press conference.

“We have to remind ourselves that they were escaping religious persecution. They’re Christians who came from Indonesia,” said Murphy. “So they didn’t necessarily come here for economic opportunity. They’re coming basically because they’re being marginalized and persecuted. America used to be — and, god willing, will be again — the beacon and have our arms open to folks like that around the world.”

Pangemanan is a Christian who came to the U.S. in 1993 to avoid religious persecution and overstayed his visa. He attempted to gain legal status but was not granted asylum, according to the Asbury Park Press. Murphy last week lent his support for Pangemanan in a ceremony where he was honored for the volunteer work he had done helping rebuild New Jersey homes after Super Storm Sandy.

“It is deeply concerning that shortly after Mr. Pangemanan was publicly honored for his significant work, ICE would target Mr. Pangemanan and attempt to detain him,” wrote U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, a New Jersey Democrat, in a letter to ICE Field Office Director John Tsoukaris.