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Immigration limbo
March 5, 2007 6:46 AM   Subscribe

"Dear Mr. Prime minister haper, I don’t like to stay in this jail. I’m only nine years old. I want to go to my school in Canada. I’m sleeping beside the wall. Please Mr. Priminister haper give visa for my family. This place is not good for me." Two Iranian parents and their Canadian-born son Kevin have been detained in a Texas detention centre after trying to escape their torturous and dangerous situation in Iran. Hear the interviews.
posted by Menomena (96 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Kevin attended a Toronto school until Grade 3. Meanwhile, his parents were seeking refugee status, based on fear of persecution in Iran, but their application was denied and, in December, 2005, the family of three was deported.

Upon their arrival in Tehran, Majid said he was taken away from his family to a prison cell. For three months, he was detained, beaten and tortured, he said. When he was released, the three were reunited, and, with the help of friends and relatives, they connected with a people smuggler in Tehran.


Isn't this more or less the same story that all asylum seekers tell?

If the Canadian authorities rejected the family's application for asylum why go back to Canada?

If things were really so terrible in Iran that they had to leave, why didn't they seek asylum somewhere else? Why go back to Canada?
posted by three blind mice at 7:05 AM on March 5, 2007


Nearly all of the meals come from cans, Kevin complained.
“Beans, beef, sometimes they give rice. But it's all garbage.”


Well excuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuse me!
posted by phaedon at 7:08 AM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Many of those detention facilities are simply old prisons, and whole families are thrown in together, complete with children wearing prison jumpsuits. The depravity of these "family detention facilities" along with things like the swift raids is really impressive. Thank god we have a government willing to throw the poorest and most helpless people in our country under the bus in order to appease xenophobic assholes in order to scrounge up the last source of votes for a dying political movement, like a crank head boiling piss to recover methamphetamine.
posted by delmoi at 7:09 AM on March 5, 2007 [4 favorites]


Well excuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuse me!

Good point! back in the day when we imprisons nine year olds we only gave them gruel! They should be so happy to eat beans and rice, and beef even! What kind of dikensian dystopia are we running here!
posted by delmoi at 7:12 AM on March 5, 2007 [6 favorites]


WHAT.
THE.
FUCK.
USA?
posted by notsnot at 7:16 AM on March 5, 2007


"As it Happens" should be renamed to "As Shit Happens".

The guy complains - complains on the radio - that his smuggler lied to him, telling him his passport was 'good' when it was in fact 'stolen in 2002'. Bummer!
posted by phaedon at 7:19 AM on March 5, 2007


On preview: Bummer dude - pass the caviar!
posted by phaedon at 7:20 AM on March 5, 2007


Its absolutely stunning to me that people find this tolerable. If it were white children being held in prison, this would have ended yesterday.
posted by empath at 7:23 AM on March 5, 2007


Phaedon, it's true that he escaped and came to Canada illegally, but if you had no option other than to watch the Iranian government torture and possibly kill you and your family, what would you do, just out of curiosity?
posted by Menomena at 7:25 AM on March 5, 2007


Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
posted by contessa at 7:26 AM on March 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


“We say that if adults are Canadian citizens, then they can somehow confer protection of their citizenship on their children. But we don't allow the reverse,” she said from Toronto. “Instead, what we do is render, in effect, the Canadian citizenship of the child null, because he can't exercise it [and sponsor his parents]. It's as if his Canadian citizenship doesn't exist or is worthless because his parents don't have it.”

What I want to know is: does their refused refugee status application make Kevin's citizenship invalid? Because otherwise, I see no reason for them not to be let into Canada.
posted by Menomena at 7:29 AM on March 5, 2007


What the fuck are we supposed to do with them? I have sympathy for these people, my parents are immigrants so I don't claim some territorial superiority to anyone try to move here, or to Canada for that matter. But I mean statements like these drive me fucking batty:

"Thank god we have a government willing to throw the poorest and most helpless people in our country under the bus in order to appease xenophobic assholes..."

I mean, have you stepped out of your fucking bubble recently? Statue of Liberty quotes are cute, too. They really are. But it has nothing to do with the article. These people applied for citizenship to Canada, were denied refugee status, should go back to Iran but probably won't (because I agree, that's crazy) and all of a sudden this turns into a "how do Americans treat non-citizens" issue?
posted by phaedon at 7:30 AM on March 5, 2007


If it were white children being held in prison, this would have ended yesterday.

I'm pretty sure the US government shits on all poor people equally regardless of color. Persians are white anyway.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:31 AM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Regardless of the merits of the case, that multi-coloured note from the kid (complete with faux-cute misspellings and corrections) really gets my back up. I wonder who told him to write it, and how much was dictated.
posted by Leon at 7:31 AM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Jesus F-ing Christ. Enough already. Screw impeachment. Can we vote Texas out of the union?
posted by YoBananaBoy at 7:32 AM on March 5, 2007


"does their refused refugee status application make Kevin's citizenship invalid?"

Surely not. Normally, citizenship cannot be stripped unless it is proved that it was fraudulently obtained.
posted by pwedza at 7:34 AM on March 5, 2007


"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,...


It's a poem, not the law. I thinking I'm not feeling overly sympathetic to people that were deported from Canada and caught trying to get back with forged passports provided by smugglers. If the kid is a Canadian citizen let him go into the custody of relatives or agreed upon guardians, the parents need to sort their own mess out.
posted by MikeMc at 7:36 AM on March 5, 2007


all of a sudden this turns into a "how do Americans treat non-citizens" issue?

That's because it is. They are in the US and they are non-citizens and they are basically in jail. It should matter to us how they are being treated. They aren't dangerous criminals.

It's a poem, not the law.

I'm aware of that, MikeMc. It happens to be the "ideal" that we profess, as Americans, when welcoming immigrants and refugees. I thought it was an interesting juxtaposition, that's all.
posted by contessa at 7:45 AM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Phaedon, it's true that he escaped and came to Canada illegally, but if you had no option other than to watch the Iranian government torture and possibly kill you and your family, what would you do, just out of curiosity?

I can't answer for Phaedon, but if my application for asylum had already been denied by the Canadian authorities and my situation was genuinely desperate, I'd try another country.

The EU is far more generous to asylum seekers than either the US or Canada and because of strange laws within the EU entering in one country and claiming asylum in another almost guarantees that you will not be sent back until your application is reviewed and your appeals exhausted.

So again my question why attempt to return to Canada?
posted by three blind mice at 7:45 AM on March 5, 2007


That didn't just wendell, it didn't even start well... this devolved about as fast as the fark thread on the same article.

And I had such high hopes for humanity....
posted by DreamerFi at 7:47 AM on March 5, 2007


If the kid is a Canadian citizen let him go into the custody of relatives or agreed upon guardians, the parents need to sort their own mess out.

Surely the principle should always be to act in the best interests of the child? How is putting him into care (which is what you are talking about) and stopping him seeing his parents until he is 18 and able to afford to travel to Iran in his best interests? Or anyone else's for that matter.

As the quote from Audrey Macklin says:

“If protecting this child means letting the parents into Canada, is that a price worth paying? Well, I think we should seriously consider that.”

So again my question why attempt to return to Canada?

Because Kevin is a Canadian citizen and wants to live in the only country he has ever known?
posted by ninebelow at 7:51 AM on March 5, 2007


What the fuck are we supposed to do with them?

Let them into Canada. Have Kevin sponsor his parents.

Persians are white anyway.

I don't know if you were kidding, but no, we're not.

If the kid is a Canadian citizen let him go into the custody of relatives or agreed upon guardians, the parents need to sort their own mess out.

Since they probably have no family in Canada, he can go live with a foster family and be forever separated from his parents. As for them? They can go back to Iran and be killed. Your idea is fabulous.

So again my question why attempt to return to Canada?

I'd assume because the kid already has citizenship, he could possibly sponsor them though I guess that didn't work the first time around. It's clear from the article that they want to go back to Canada because it's their home.
posted by Menomena at 7:54 AM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Phaedon, it's true that he escaped and came to Canada illegally, but if you had no option other than to watch the Iranian government torture and possibly kill you and your family, what would you do, just out of curiosity?

Maybe apply for asylum in a country more likely to take you in? I'm sure there are many countries who would accept anyone. It might not be fun to live in Congo or Uganda, but it would be better then being tortured in Iran.

The country that accepted the most Asylum seekers in 2005 was the United States accepting 77 thousand people. Followed by Congo at 60,000, Uganda at 51,000 and Kenya at 41,000. Those four countries alone accept ten times the number of peopel as canada. And there are many other alternatives as well, so if their main desire is to escape Iran, then why try to get into canada?

data (see page 20-25)

I'm not saying they should be imprisioned in Texas, obviously, but its not like they have no where to go.
posted by delmoi at 7:56 AM on March 5, 2007


You can't sponsor anybody if you're under 18 in canada. And yes, "let them into canada" works for me, except that's not how it works. The Canadians already rejected their application.
posted by phaedon at 7:57 AM on March 5, 2007


I don't know if you were kidding, but no, we're not.

If Italians are white so are Persians.
posted by delmoi at 7:58 AM on March 5, 2007


Hopefully it will go better than this did.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 8:02 AM on March 5, 2007


Followed by Congo at 60,000, Uganda at 51,000 and Kenya at 41,000.

That seems rather disingenuous considering how close these countries are to Sudan.

But yes, Screw the Rest of the World TM. Send them to Africa!
posted by YoBananaBoy at 8:06 AM on March 5, 2007


>I don't know if you were kidding, but no, we're not.

If Italians are white so are Persians.


Well put.

Some of the Afghans and Iranians in my community have lighter eyes and hair than I do and I'm completely of northern european ancestry.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:08 AM on March 5, 2007


So if their main desire is to escape Iran, then why try to get into canada?

In one of the interviews, Majid said he wouldn't mind living in the US. I think he just wants to go anywhere where his family isn't being locked up or tortured. Perhaps they wanted to tried Canada again because they thought Kevin's citizenship held clout.

If Italians are white so are Persians.

What do you mean by white... Skin colour? Then sure, I have cousins in Iran who have blonde hair and green eyes, but I also have cousins who are brown brown brown. But skin colour is not what we typically mean when we refer to someone as white.
posted by Menomena at 8:11 AM on March 5, 2007


And there are many other alternatives as well, so if their main desire is to escape Iran, then why try to get into canada?

It sounds like they have two desires; firstly, to escape Iran and, secondly, to return home.

The parents had lived in Canada for 10 years. The son had lived in Canada for eight years and had never lived anywhere else. He is also a Canadian citizen. Your question is basically "why would a Canadian want to live in Canada?" If you were a nine year old Canadian would you want to move to Uganda? I don't see that it is difficult to understand why a family would want to do the best thing for their son.
posted by ninebelow at 8:13 AM on March 5, 2007


ninebelow writes "Surely the principle should always be to act in the best interests of the child? How is putting him into care (which is what you are talking about) and stopping him seeing his parents until he is 18 and able to afford to travel to Iran in his best interests? Or anyone else's for that matter."

Like an official policy of not negotiating with terrorists and not paying kidnappers the hard line here is to protect the system. Otherwise any couple could emigrate to Canada by getting pregnant, flying to Canada and then hiding out for 6 months.
posted by Mitheral at 8:15 AM on March 5, 2007


K, so there are four groups of guilty people here:

1) US should probably have a more humane way of handling illegal immigrants stuck in limbo; especially when they aren't as photogenic as Tom Hanks and can't get movies made about them.

2) Canada should probably be taking a closer look at accepting the refugees and their asylum claims if torture can be substantiated

3) The father should probably have come up with a better plan to get the heck out of Iran; he gambled that the people smuggler would be able to get them out.

What's striking to me is that there's nothing upthread about guilty party number 4: the theocratic assholes who routinely engage in torture and summary execution, enough so that the father's contention of torture is not even questioned. the root of the problem is the Iranian government; It's sad that folks on MeFi have gotten to the point where the least culpable player in the whole mess that gets the knee-jerk blame.
posted by jenkinsEar at 8:19 AM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


The kid can't sponsor his parents. Apparently in Canada, parents can sponsor kids, but not vice versa.

But more importantly:
They were detained/imprisoned in the U.S. because their plane made an unplanned stop on U.S. soil (to remove a passenger who had died of a heart attack, apparently)

Now, if the story was "family turned away at the Canadian border" I'd have less sympathy - but what the fuck business of the U.S. is it whether his passport is valid, when they aren't attempting to get into the U.S.? Transfer the family to a Canadian detention center (where they will no doubt get somewhat better treatment) and be done with it.
posted by bashos_frog at 8:24 AM on March 5, 2007


The conditions at the detention center are what got my attention:

At one point, Majid walked into the room where Kevin and his mother sleep to help them fix a broken bed.

“They were told that if he violated rules, because the father's not allowed into that room, the family would be separated,” Ms. Hines said. “One of the things the detainees have reported to us is the threat of separation as a means of discipline.”


Is that really necessary? The father not allowed into the room where his wife and child sleep and the threat of separation for fixing a bed?
posted by mediareport at 8:24 AM on March 5, 2007


Canadian immigration is much less inclusive and efficient than most people realize. It is very hard to get asylum, and it's my understanding that the majority of applicants have a similar story: arrive in Canada, get cozy while they wait the several years it takes the system to render a decision -- which is a denial in the majority of cases -- and then either disappear into the out-of-status woodwork or get deported when removal proceedings commence.

It's terrible that this family has to make this choice, but on the other hand they were sneaking into the country with false documents. Legally, and from a security standpoint, I can see why Canada is denying them entry.

The ideal solution would be to reform the immigration system to either allow more asylum claims or to at least return a decision quicker, but that apparently isn't going to happen anytime soon.

Incidentally, the lawyer quoted in the article was my Immigration Law prof. The extent of the guy's knowledge of such a convoluted system is almost staggering.
posted by AV at 8:24 AM on March 5, 2007


I can see why Canada is denying them entry.

Hate to nitpick, but the article didn't say Canada was denying entry, did it? It said the USA is denying them exit.
posted by dobbs at 8:27 AM on March 5, 2007


Otherwise any couple could emigrate to Canada by getting pregnant, flying to Canada and then hiding out for 6 months.

Bingo.

As a pro-immigration Canadian, I don't want the kid's folks in my country. We rejected their claim, and they came here illegally. While I disagree that the kid should be a Canadian citizen (I think that being born here should not be enough; I think that one or more parents should be citizens, as well), he is one. As such, he should be afforded the protection of our government. If the kid's parents are willing to let him be raised in foster care, he should be brought back.
posted by solid-one-love at 8:28 AM on March 5, 2007


You can sponsor your parents (like i said earlier), but you have to be eighteen and meet a long list of requirements.
posted by phaedon at 8:29 AM on March 5, 2007


The parents had lived in Canada for 10 years. The son had lived in Canada for eight years and had never lived anywhere else. He is also a Canadian citizen. Your question is basically "why would a Canadian want to live in Canada?" If you were a nine year old Canadian would you want to move to Uganda? I don't see that it is difficult to understand why a family would want to do the best thing for their son.

Clearly they want to return to Canada, but the Canadians had already denied them asylum. If the MAIN priority was to escape torture in Iran then Germany (which according to the excellent UNHCR link delmoi provided) which had 24,016 refugees from Iran at the end of 2005 would have been a better choice.

If it's not obvious, I'm just doubting that their claim for asylum is legit. Maybe, just maybe, these parents are using their kid to pursue their own selfish interests. It happens all the time.

We might all agree that the best interests of the child should be the goal, it's not clear at all what those best interests might be.
posted by three blind mice at 8:29 AM on March 5, 2007


All in all you just another brick in the wall.
posted by MapGuy at 8:31 AM on March 5, 2007


I think this story illustrates why Canada shouldn't consider the US a safe third country when it comes to asylum seekers. I still think Australia is probably the most crap country in the world to seek asylum in though.
posted by chunking express at 8:32 AM on March 5, 2007


Like an official policy of not negotiating with terrorists and not paying kidnappers the hard line here is to protect the system.

Paying kidnappers puts people in danger by making kidnapping more likely. Who does granting Canadian citizenship endanger? Or to put it another way, if protecting the system causes more harm than good in certain instances then should the system be protected? Another example of this would be negotiating with terrorists.

Otherwise any couple could emigrate to Canada by getting pregnant, flying to Canada and then hiding out for 6 months

Six months?

Anyway I don't think giving birth should be a magic golden ticket but if the Canadian immigration system is not efficient enough to process an application for the family of a child born in Canada by the time that child starts school then I really think they have to hold up their hands and say they missed their opportunity.
posted by ninebelow at 8:33 AM on March 5, 2007


Is that really necessary? The father not allowed into the room where his wife and child sleep and the threat of separation for fixing a bed?

I am unconvinced that his story is true. He does have a recent history of being untruthful to get what he wants.
posted by solid-one-love at 8:33 AM on March 5, 2007


...if protecting the system causes more harm than good in certain instances then should the system be protected?

Does the american legal system punish offenders? Does it cause more harm than good?
posted by phaedon at 8:42 AM on March 5, 2007


I am unconvinced that his story is true. He does have a recent history of being untruthful to get what he wants.

It's quite a bold statement to say that this man is a pathological liar because of the method he used to get his family and himself back into Canada.
posted by contessa at 8:43 AM on March 5, 2007


Menomena writes "But skin colour is not what we typically mean when we refer to someone as white."

Huh? What does the description white mean if not skin colour?

jenkinsEar writes "It's sad that folks on MeFi have gotten to the point where the least culpable player in the whole mess that gets the knee-jerk blame."

I'm betting the number of Iranians living in Iran who are also active MetaFilter members is very small. The majority of people here have a much better chance of changing the actions of the US and Canadian governments than the Iranian.

ninebelow writes "Six months?"

You want to travel in the late 3rd or early 4 month while it's not obvious the woman is pregnant but after the greatest risk of miscarriage has passed.

ninebelow writes "Who does granting Canadian citizenship endanger? Or to put it another way, if protecting the system causes more harm than good in certain instances then should the system be protected?"

1st world countries can only handle so much immigration lest the support services be over tasked to the point of uselessness. Opening a flood gate to anyone who wants to come would be very bad both for the new arrivals and the current citizenship.
posted by Mitheral at 8:50 AM on March 5, 2007


It's quite a bold statement to say that this man is a pathological liar

I guess it would be, if anyone said or implied that.
posted by solid-one-love at 8:55 AM on March 5, 2007


The American Immigration Authority or whoever is detaining them has a right to the parents, I suppose; According to Canada's (albeit aggravating) refugee policy, they were trying to enter the country illegally. However, they have no right to hold the child. Certainly they have no right to keep him and his parents in such prison-like conditions.

What exactly is stopping them from sending the family back to Iran? At least they wouldn't be imprisoned... or would they?
posted by tehloki at 9:00 AM on March 5, 2007


Oh, and solid-one-love, nice try, but "He lied before, he'll lie again" is a pretty straightforward statement. No linguistic dodging, please.
posted by tehloki at 9:04 AM on March 5, 2007


But skin colour is not what we typically mean when we refer to someone as white.

Look, I think race is just as social contract, etc, but "race" has always been "sort of" based on genetics and ancestry. A persian living in the south in the 1950s would be white. Arabs and Persians are considered white by the U.S. Census. Culturally they are diffrent the europeans, but in terms of the historical concepts of "race" they are not.
posted by delmoi at 9:04 AM on March 5, 2007


Canada should probably be taking a closer look at accepting the refugees and their asylum claims if torture can be substantiated

Substantiated? I must have missed the part in one of the linked pieces where CIC said that there was a finding that torture had occurred and was likely to occur again but hey who cares.

It's like this. No nation accepts "economic refugees". So many, many claim personal persecution or torture (it isn't enough to claim that people are being persecuted in your home country -- it has to be a specific threat to you). Given that frequency, it's the subject of considerable skepticism.

Whether their story is true or not, had it been "substantiated" they wouldn't be where they are now.
posted by dreamsign at 9:06 AM on March 5, 2007


Otherwise any couple could emigrate to Canada by getting pregnant, flying to Canada and then hiding out for 6 months

Well, that's pretty much how it works in the U.S.
posted by delmoi at 9:06 AM on March 5, 2007


Saying that Persians or Iranians are white is about as accurate as saying that Americans are white. Persia is a region and some people from that region are white, others aren't. I've known some Persians that made my pasty white ass look positively swarthy by comparision, I've known others that are very dark in complexion.
posted by substrate at 9:07 AM on March 5, 2007


Now, if the story was "family turned away at the Canadian border" I'd have less sympathy - but what the fuck business of the U.S. is it whether his passport is valid, when they aren't attempting to get into the U.S.? Transfer the family to a Canadian detention center (where they will no doubt get somewhat better treatment) and be done with it.

Actually I think Canadians just throw immigration detanies in regular prison. I read about one detanee who was raped and later died in prison, who was only being held on an immigration hold. I think it was in a mefi comment.
posted by delmoi at 9:11 AM on March 5, 2007


Oh, and solid-one-love, nice try, but "He lied before, he'll lie again" is a pretty straightforward statement. No linguistic dodging, please.

Except that I didn't say that, either. I said that I was unconvinced that he was telling the truth because he has lied before. This is not a controversial viewpoint. Lie in court, for example, and your other testimony will likely be viewed with suspicion whether it's true or not.

No linguistic dodging at all. Pretty plain English, actually.
posted by solid-one-love at 9:15 AM on March 5, 2007


had it been "substantiated" they wouldn't be where they are now.

Riiight, because CIC *never ever* orders the deportation of folks who face arrest and the risk of torture in their home countries. And that was just a two-second search; I've seen other imilar cases involving Canada in the past. Your blind faith in the rightness and properness of Canada's asylum program is cute, but probably a bit misplaced.
posted by mediareport at 9:20 AM on March 5, 2007


I saw this story on the web, and I thought if there was NO US link to this story; we would probably not even be having this disscussion.
posted by happybunny at 9:31 AM on March 5, 2007


For everybody that wants refugee claims in Canada to be processed more quickly: Does that mean you want there to be less room for appeal?
posted by thecjm at 9:38 AM on March 5, 2007


it is regrettable how this family is being treated on our soil, but the larger issue is that canada is imposing on us in this matter. this isn't our problem and yet we find ourselves forced to expend resources addressing it, so what i propose we do is drive the family north from texas to the canadian border, deposit them on the other side with a cheerful "have fun in the winter wonderland" and then drive away.
posted by bruce at 9:40 AM on March 5, 2007


Since they probably have no family in Canada, he can go live with a foster family and be forever separated from his parents. As for them? They can go back to Iran and be killed. Your idea is fabulous.

You assume they have no family or close friends in Canada that can care for the boy until the parents get their immigration status sorted out. You also assume that the family will never be allowed to emigrate to Canada. You do not know either to be true.

You further assume the parents were telling the truth about being tortured in Iran. Not all asylum claims are legitimate. You might be surprised to learn that people lie to immigration officials quite often when attempting to gain citizenship in other countries. The parent's asylum claim was rejected so apparently Canadian immigration officials did not consider their claim to have merit. I don't know these people so I won't say they're lying but the possibility does exist.

For those of you throwing race into the I have a question:

If ICE caught lighter-skinned foreigners in a U.S. airport travelling with forged passports do you honestly think they would just let them go?
posted by MikeMc at 9:45 AM on March 5, 2007


what the fuck business of the U.S. is it whether his passport is valid, when they aren't attempting to get into the U.S.

Because they did enter the U.S. Not that difficult a concept to grasp, really.

The American Immigration Authority or whoever is detaining them has a right to the parents, I suppose; According to Canada's (albeit aggravating) refugee policy, they were trying to enter the country illegally. However, they have no right to hold the child.

All three of them entered the U.S. illegally, on forged passports. I guess that sort of thing is OK now?
posted by oaf at 9:45 AM on March 5, 2007


I don't know these people so I won't say they're lying but the possibility does exist.

Careful. You might be accused of painting them as pathological liars.
posted by solid-one-love at 9:55 AM on March 5, 2007


Because they did enter the U.S. Not that difficult a concept to grasp, really.

Except they didn't do it under their own control. They had not planned to go to the US, their route was not going to take them to the US, yet they were forced to land in Puerto Rico because of an in-flight death.

It seems damn straightforward to me that if I don't have any planned stop in the US, I shouldn't have to ensure that my papers are valid to enter that country.
posted by splice at 10:18 AM on March 5, 2007


If one kid in prison will deter the bazillions of illegal aliens streaming into the U.S., then all I can say is "Sorry, kid".

But it won't.
posted by tadellin at 10:18 AM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


it is regrettable how this family is being treated on our soil, but the larger issue is that canada is imposing on us in this matter.

Canada is making no imposition at all on the US in this matter. The family was deported to Iran and made their own decision to try to get back in, and were caught. They weren't deported into the US. There is no "issue" concerning Canadian imposition on the US.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 10:21 AM on March 5, 2007


It seems damn straightforward to me that if I don't have any planned stop in the US, I shouldn't have to ensure that my papers are valid to enter that country.

Their papers weren't valid to enter any country, and people have to face unintended consquences of their actions all the time. My sympathy is limited.
posted by solid-one-love at 10:22 AM on March 5, 2007


"It seems damn straightforward to me that if I don't have any planned stop in the US, I shouldn't have to ensure that my papers are valid to enter that country."

I think the point is that their papers weren't valid to enter any country. I would think that if you are travelling to multiple countries with forged papers you would understand that everything might not go smoothly and that there is a risk of detection and detention.
posted by MikeMc at 10:25 AM on March 5, 2007


I should really pay closer attention to previews.
posted by MikeMc at 10:27 AM on March 5, 2007


Any doubt that I may have had about Iranians being white was settled when I found out that my full Assyrian father-in-law's father voted for George Wallace.
posted by Captain_Tenille at 10:36 AM on March 5, 2007


Actually I think Canadians just throw immigration detanies in regular prison.

If there isn't a CBSA detention centre nearby then you get held in jail. But there have also been cases where other facilities (like military bases) have been converted into detention centres when the sheer number of refugees would overwhelm the current set up.
posted by squeak at 10:36 AM on March 5, 2007


Not to say Canadian gaols are perfect but I'd much rather be in one than an American jail. The facility they are in sounds worse than the minimum security Canadian prisons I'm familiar with. However they might go to a medium security facility if they are perceived as a flight risk.

splice writes "It seems damn straightforward to me that if I don't have any planned stop in the US, I shouldn't have to ensure that my papers are valid to enter that country."

This kind of thing happens all the time to people intentionally or accidentally passing though American airports. It's not rare for a Mexico-Canada flight to have to make an unscheduled stop in the US and when it lands have Mexicans pulled off the plane and sent back to Mexico by ICE. A friend of mine had his Mother-In-Law be unlucky enough to be "deported" twice when her non-stop flights were diverted while she was attempting to travel to Canada to see her daughter and grand daughter.
posted by Mitheral at 10:47 AM on March 5, 2007


Open borders, for the poor as well as the rich.
Supposing the governments of the rich countries were in reality concerned by the problem of forced migration, there would be better, and probably more sustainable and effective, ways to reduce it than by casting around for yet more brutal ways of enforcing immigration controls. Governments ought to recognise that they themselves often bear direct responsibility, and are nearly always partly responsible, for creating the conditions from which people flee. There is much that they could do, and above all not do: they could refrain from supporting and arming repressive regimes or the opposition to more progressive regimes, they could, as a minimum, not supply weapons to the participants in wars and civil conflicts, and they could cease to engage in armed interventions. They could be less greedy in their exploitation of the peoples and resources of other countries. When the West’s corporations or its agencies the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund make investments which displace people or pollute their land, or impose policies which impoverish them and create unemployment, people who are made destitute or landless are unlikely themselves to have the resources to migrate, but the situation may feed war, conflict and repression which force others to migrate. The increases in asylum seekers in Europe in the last few years have been mainly from Somalia, former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq, all countries of significant military and economic intervention by the West. In particular, while there was a steady trickle of refugees from Iraq under the Saddam regime and in the years of economic sanctions, there was a surge in numbers in response to the threat of US/British invasion.
posted by asok at 10:58 AM on March 5, 2007


I think he just wants to go anywhere where his family isn't being locked up or tortured. Perhaps they wanted to tried Canada again because they thought Kevin's citizenship held clout.

As a general rule, yeah, I think I'd go anywhere my family isn't being locked up or tortured. Sheesh. And if it were me, of course I'd head to Canada again. Presumably, they have friends, jobs -- for all we know, all their worldly possessions are in storage there, too.

And is it really necessary for the US jailers to keep the father out of the same room as the mother/child as well as threaten additional separation? What crawled up the jail's butt and died there? It's not like they're suicide bombers, for heaven's sake.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 11:24 AM on March 5, 2007


Riiight, because CIC *never ever* orders the deportation of folks who face arrest and the risk of torture in their home countries.

What part of "substantiated" do you not understand? I didn't say factual or in truth -- this case has to be made. Or shall they just take your word for it?
posted by dreamsign at 11:24 AM on March 5, 2007


Menomena, I thought whites were Aryans and included North Indians, Persians and the like. I could be wrong though.

And I HATE CIC... which is tangential to this story.
posted by Listener at 11:32 AM on March 5, 2007


It seems damn straightforward to me that if I don't have any planned stop in the US, I shouldn't have to ensure that my papers are valid to enter that country.

So you're saying that the U.S. doesn't have the right to screen everyone who enters the country, and furthermore, has no right to detain people with no valid papers at all? That's silly.
posted by oaf at 11:32 AM on March 5, 2007


And is it really necessary for the US jailers to keep the father out of the same room as the mother/child as well as threaten additional separation?

I wondered about this as well. Is this rule to keep people from having t3h secks or something? Seeing as this isn't supposed to be a prison I don't see why the family wouldn't stay together.
posted by MikeMc at 11:35 AM on March 5, 2007


MikeMc, it's inhumane, if you ask me. Then again, I think keeping a young child behind bars when they haven't done a damn thing wrong is bad, too.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 11:47 AM on March 5, 2007


I think keeping a young child behind bars when they haven't done a damn thing wrong is bad, too.

So he should be released but his parents held, and sent where, exactly?
posted by oaf at 11:53 AM on March 5, 2007


Clearly the problem should be solved by the Canadian government. They should issue an immediate apology to this family and spare no effort to have them flown to Toronto, where they should be offered amnesty and given citizenship.

*crickets*

well, since we have so many Canadians telling us how to solve our problem with millions of illegal immigrants from Mexico, we can tell them how to solve a dilemna of a lost 9 year old child. *shrug*

Besides, it's what.. 3 people? C'mon, Canada.. do the right thing and grant them asylum. After all, the story says that upon return to Iran, the father faced the very things that he feared would happen.
posted by drstein at 12:46 PM on March 5, 2007


C'mon, Canada.. do the right thing and grant them asylum

As I understand it, Parliament can't order CIC to do anything. Immigration follows its policies. Period. There's a reason they have thick bullet proof glass in their visa offices all over the place. Those little dictators are hated.
posted by Listener at 1:10 PM on March 5, 2007


He might not be all that "lost". If Iran recognizes children born of Iranian fathers as citizens regardless of where they are born, Kevin might be a dual citizen.
posted by squeak at 1:28 PM on March 5, 2007


If Iran recognizes children born of Iranian fathers as citizens regardless of where they are born, Kevin might be a dual citizen.

You can't be a dual citizen if one of the countries is Iran.
posted by oaf at 1:35 PM on March 5, 2007


oaf, he still might be considered an Iranian if we were in Iran. I am pretty sure this is the case with Syria, and also with China if I'm not mistaken.
posted by chunking express at 1:39 PM on March 5, 2007


I guess it depends on whether Iran's law is like Japan's, where you can be penalized for attempting to retain other citizenships if you are a Japanese citizen.
posted by oaf at 1:47 PM on March 5, 2007


You can't be a dual citizen if one of the countries is Iran

Not true. My wife is an Iranian citizen and has never been there.
We're Canadian.
posted by chococat at 4:01 PM on March 5, 2007


An important consideration in planning future travels should be to make sure that one's plane will at no point whatsoever enter US territory, even in the event of an emergency.
posted by clevershark at 4:28 PM on March 5, 2007


Huh? What does the description white mean if not skin colour?

In my experience, the term "white" most commonly refers to someone with a European background. White, black, brown... These terms are not very helpful in determining a person's background whatsoever, yet they are commonly used as such. The term "African-American" is also frequently used as a synonym for black people, yet not all black people are from Africa (directly anyway... everything came from Africa, did it not? You get my point). When people know I'm Iranian, they usually don't refer to me as "white". I'm usually the "non-white", even though I'm pale.

On the other hand, my supervisor--whose family came here from Italy a few generations back--considers me white. It's a matter of perspective... See how limiting these damn labels are?! Ugh. The point is, I've seen the term "white" used in more of a cultural connotation than denoting skin colour, though perhaps your experience has been different.

Menomena, I thought whites were Aryans and included North Indians, Persians and the like. I could be wrong though.

Listener, based on that Wikipedia article you linked to, the term was first used by the Persians, and has also been theorized to represent people from a vast region including North Europe and Iran, but again... the period they're referring to was so long ago, does it really define what being from Russia or Iran or x country is like today? Not necessarily. Like you, I could be completely wrong... That's my interpretation. I'm a fairly culturally-stupid Persian. And have no time to read and comprehend that article in its entirety.
posted by Menomena at 5:13 PM on March 5, 2007


(as said above) That pretty obviously dictated note disgusts me. Stop using children to score political points.

Beyond that, I'm honestly not sure how to feel about this. The story breaks my heart, and while it's clear that their lives are very much invested in Canada, I have to wonder why they didn't look elsewhere at all.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 5:56 PM on March 5, 2007


I have to wonder why they didn't look elsewhere at all.

I'm sure after that many years settled in a new land, it begins to look like a done deal.

Part of the unusual consequences of Canadian human rights law is that you are afforded (some but not all) Charter rights upon reaching its soil, which you don't get if you are merely applying from afar. Hence, we've had barely seaworthy boats appearing off the coast of British Columbia filled with would-be refugees, and both their curse and their gift is that they get years in Canada to sort out all the hearings and appeals.

The U.S., meanwhile, puts tremendous pressure on Canada to reform (ie: stiffen) its immigration policies, seeing this as a weak spot because many awaiting their dispositions in Canada disappear to then attempt illegal entry into the U.S.. They argue, not unconvincingly, that this may be the entire point of reaching Canada for some refugees – to make use of their rights there long enough to slip across the border. (while CIC is equally concerned about “disappearing” elsewhere into Canada, too)

Thus, you don’t see terribly dissimilar things happening in Canada, as others have noted. Custody according to whatever means is available while those hearings and appeals take their course, though I’m not familiar with any cases where a minor was in fact a citizen but the parents were not (but given the, frankly bizarre, nature of citizenship by birth rules, I would be surprised if this hadn’t happened before).

Surely those saying “it’s just one family” aren’t serious, though. Half the point of law is consistency, and while people hate lawyers and the seemingly arbitrary complexity of the system, the moment they need to argue their rights they jump up and down demanding the same treatment as Joe Smith, who had similar circumstances somewhere else in the country in 1987, and that’s why it gets as complicated as it does (because Joe’s kid’s situation was every so slightly different, or Joe had a record, or they had an appeal overturned, or what have you). You don’t bend the rules due to circumstances; you change the rules to take them into account. (and if your system is any good, those changes have happened long ago)

CIC serves an unenviable role not too dissimilar to a parole board in many respects – hearing the same stories again and again, knowing that a sizeable proportion of them are not true, and having to determine what they can often from very unreliable information. I’ve never worked for CIC so I don’t know if they “err on the safe side” in cases like this or even what that would mean to a CIC officer. Many refugees turn up with no paperwork at all. That’s kinda the nature of fleeing your homeland. And we’re a long way off from addressing “economic refugees”, so this problem isn’t going to go away. As one prof of mine always said, “first world nations want immigrants with laptops, not with children on their laps.” And so it goes.
posted by dreamsign at 7:20 PM on March 5, 2007


well, since we have so many Canadians telling us how to solve our problem with millions of illegal immigrants from Mexico, we can tell them how to solve a dilemna of a lost 9 year old child. *shrug*

Canadians opine on your immigration policy while your government puts pressure on ours. Sure, same thing.
posted by dreamsign at 7:26 PM on March 5, 2007


Apologies. That was hasty and ill-considered. Obviously you're not equating those two things, and you may not be aware of what goes on at the national level on these issues.
posted by dreamsign at 7:28 PM on March 5, 2007


I'm honestly not sure how to feel about this. The story breaks my heart, and while it's clear that their lives are very much invested in Canada, I have to wonder why they didn't look elsewhere at all.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 5:56 PM PST on March 5


That's pretty much how I feel about this story, and I'm Persian myself.

Regarding the race issue, I don't exactly feel white either, although most Americans (who have commented to me about this, anyway), say they consider me white. But as young teen attending boarding school in England, I was constantly reminded of how non-white and different I was.
posted by Devils Slide at 11:30 PM on March 5, 2007


Persians may be white or not, but one thing is certain, they are often beautiful. Can we all be happy with that?

I can't add to the discussion of the case. It's sad. I see no clear solution that doesn't open a host of likely problems as regards immigration law.
posted by Goofyy at 6:24 AM on March 7, 2007


Immigration is a really complex issue, and I've been known to hold conflicting opinions at the same time. That said, the T. Don Hutto Family Detention Center is a travesty and should be shut down.

There is no reason for the US to warehouse families of immigrants who may or may not get legal status at some point in an abandoned prison. It's inhumane that there are 170+ kids behind razor wire.

Do I realize the inherent issues with immigration? Of course I do, I live on the front lines of the problem, and I'm still fixing all the problems that occurred when my identity was stolen and used by illegals.

But despite the fact that I believe we need a more logical immigration system, I cannot support a system that puts non-dangerous offenders and their children in prison without a trial.

That said, this "letter from child" reeks of propaganda. The whole multi-colored, twice written, deliberate misspellings and carefully crafted "cutsey" factor is an attempt to try and skirt the laws that the parents were trying to break in the first place.

I will grant that Hutto sucks, and should be removed as an option for warehousing entire families of immigration violators, but just because Hutto sucks does not mean that a deliberate attempt to break international law should then be rewarded by the Canadian immigration board.
posted by dejah420 at 3:58 PM on March 7, 2007


Update: Canada has granted temporary residency permits to the family.
posted by russilwvong at 3:15 PM on March 12, 2007


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