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  • U.S. Crackdown Sets Off Unusual Rush to Canada

    Worried migrants: avoid crossing at the Quebec border!!!
    February 25, 2003

    U.S. Crackdown Sets Off Unusual Rush to Canada
    http://www.nytimes.com/2003/02/25/national/25DETA.html

    By SUSAN SACHS

    BURLINGTON, Vt., Feb. 21 Once Jalil Mirza decided to leave the United
    States to avoid possible deportation, nothing happened quite as he
    expected, not even goodbye.

    As did hundreds of other Pakistanis fleeing a post-9/11 crackdown on
    illegal immigrants, Mr. Mirza quit his job, packed up his possessions and
    headed north rather than face a forced return to Pakistan.

    After a 16-hour bus ride from Virginia with his wife and seven children,
    he arrived at the Canadian border, hoping to take advantage of Canada's
    political asylum law.

    But besieged Canadian officials told him to come back in two weeks. And
    when he dragged their suitcases back to the American side, United States
    immigration agents promptly arrested him and his two teenage sons, leaving
    the rest of the family wailing in despair in the icy cold.

    The Mirzas are part of an unusual and chaotic exodus that has jammed land
    crossings from the United States into Canada over the past two weeks,
    overwhelming immigration officials and refugee aid groups on both sides of
    the border.

    It is an oddly reluctant migration toward a presumed safe haven by people
    who say they do not really want to go but feel compelled to for fear that
    they could be deported.

    Prompted by rumors of dragnets and by new federal deadlines that require
    male foreign visitors, principally those from Muslim and Arab countries,
    to register with the government, families that lived illegally but
    undisturbed in the United States for years are now rushing to Canada. They
    get across the border only to be bounced back into the hands and jails of
    the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

    Asylum applications to Canada have increased sharply since the beginning
    of the year, according to aid workers and officials on both sides of the
    border. Most of the applicants are Pakistanis, who are required to
    register with the American immigration service by March 21. Other
    nationality groups also face various registration deadlines, but have not
    noticeably flooded the border.

    Many of the Pakistani asylum seekers said they decided to flee to Canada
    because they knew that Canada was already home to a large and growing
    population of Pakistani immigrants, especially in Montreal and Toronto.

    Even before the latest upswing this month and last month, Pakistanis
    accounted for the largest number of asylum applications to Canada,
    according to Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

    Refugee aid workers also speculated that the registration requirement hit
    Pakistani immigrants harder than other groups because more of them lived
    illegally in the United States and had less time to legalize their status
    through family ties or employment. A result is that hundreds of would-be
    refugees, some from as far away as Texas, are now camped out in Salvation
    Army shelters, mosques and other lodgings along the border, waiting for
    appointments to apply for asylum and struggling to find money to pay the
    bond to get their male relatives out of immigration detention.

    Their common refrain, as was Mr. Mirza's, is that they love America and do
    not want to leave.

    A former restaurant manager in Virginia with four young children born in
    the United States, Mr. Mirza, 45, managed to scrape together the $4,500 he
    needed to get himself and his older sons out of jail on bond. His family
    stayed two weeks in a shelter in Burlington, until today when they had an
    8 a.m. appointment with Canadian immigration officials.

    But Mr. Mirza wanted to show, one last time, that his heart was in the
    United States. "I'm going to turn and salute the American flag," he said
    as he approached the border. "I love America."

    Even that plan, though, went awry. In the most prosaic of farewells, after
    filling out forms for eight hours he and his family were driven straight
    to the Canadian post at St. Bernard Lacolle, Quebec, early in the morning
    under a milky overcast sky. No one bothered to stop him on the American
    side, where the nearest flag hung limply on a pole in the distance.

    "This is one of the most tragic events I've ever witnessed, seeing this
    exodus of good, hard-working families," said Patrick Giantonio, executive
    director of Vermont Refugee Assistance, which had found the shelter for
    the Mirzas and dozens of other Pakistani families trying to reach Canada.

    "It's a tragedy not just for their communities," Mr. Giantonio added, "but
    for the American community."

    Similar stories are playing out all along the northern border.

    At crossing points in British Columbia, some 70 people, most of them
    Pakistanis, asked for asylum in January. In all of 2002, officials said,
    only 36 Pakistanis made refugee claims.

    At land crossings into Ontario, 871 people applied for asylum in January,
    double the number just two months earlier. Last November, 5 percent of the
    asylum seekers were Pakistani. Last month, 49 percent were Pakistani,
    according to Canadian immigration officials in Toronto.

    Freedom House, an immigrant aid group in Detroit, said that since the
    beginning of the year it had registered 269 Muslim asylum seekers trying
    to reach Canada in advance of their registration deadlines. Seven out of
    10 are Pakistanis, with the rest Arabs. Normally, the group handles about
    30 cases a month.

    The surge of asylum seekers coincided with the start in December of a new
    registration program for men over the age of 15 who were in the United
    States on visitor, student or business visas. Within days, it became clear
    to foreigners that anyone registering who had overstayed a visa would be
    immediately put into deportation proceedings.

    Although the registration law, dating to 1996, applies to all foreign
    visitors, the Department of Justice has put it into effect only for men
    from 25 countries, all but one of them Arab or Muslim nations. Of the
    32,000 men who have registered so far at immigration offices around the
    country, according to officials, more than 3,000 face deportation.

    The choices for illegal Muslim immigrants, then, were stark. If they had
    been in the United States for more than one year, they no longer had the
    right to apply for asylum here. So they could have ignored the
    registration and risked deportation, registered and faced deportation or
    gone back to Pakistan. Or they could try for asylum in Canada by claiming
    they would face political persecution if forced to return home.

    They are not only overwhelming service agencies, but have also proved an
    embarrassment for the Pakistani government, which has been criticized at
    home for not demanding better treatment for its expatriates in exchange
    for its cooperation with the United States on fighting terrorism.

    After the Pakistani foreign minister protested in Washington this month
    against the registration requirement, the deadline for Pakistanis was
    extended to March 21 from Feb. 21. The change also affected men from Saudi
    Arabia, who faced the same deadline.

    But the extension is unlikely to stem the tide of people to the Canadian
    border, which has always registered shifts in immigration policy on either
    side with surges of people seeking asylum in Canada.

    The widely held perception is that Canada treats applicants with more
    leniency, although its refugee approval rate of 57 percent is not much
    higher than that of the United States, which approves 54 percent of asylum
    cases. Asylum seekers in the United States are generally placed in
    detention while their claims are assessed, however, while those waiting
    for a decision in Canada are free to work.

    Still, the latest tide of Muslim men and their families took authorities
    on both sides by surprise.

    Three weeks ago, Canadian border officials at the crossings from northern
    New York and Vermont, said they did not have enough workers to handle the
    numbers of people asking for refugee status. They began giving applicants
    appointments for several weeks later and sending them back to the American
    side of the border.

    In the past when unable to process people on the spot, Canada asked for
    assurances from the immigration service that those applicants would not be
    arrested after returning to the United States to wait for their
    interviews. But last month, Canadian authorities did not bother.

    "We realized it was useless because whether or not we got assurances, we
    could not process these people," said Rene Mercier, a spokesman for
    Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

    The United States, in turn, placed dozens of people in deportation
    proceedings even if they had documents showing an asylum appointment with
    Canada. Others, caught on their way to the border at counterterrorism
    checkpoints set up by the United States Customs Service, were arrested on
    immigration violations.

    The arrests split families and left many women and children to fend for
    themselves at isolated border posts in some of the coldest weather in
    years. At least 50 people remain in detention along the border, unable to
    post bond.

    The immigration service said its agents were simply following procedure.
    "Individuals who are illegally in the U.S. are processed the same way we
    would process them if we encountered them any other way," said Michael
    Gilhooly, a spokesman for the agency.

    But it is a shock for those at the border. "I am crying, my wife is
    crying," said Samir Sheik, a Pakistani who had been working as a street
    vendor in New York City and was arrested at a checkpoint on his way to the
    Canadian border for having overstayed his visa. "It's not fair because I
    am leaving the country."

    Mr. Sheik said that he could not return to Pakistan because he and his
    wife married against the wishes of both their families "a love marriage,"
    as he tearfully described it and that he feared his wife would be killed
    by her father.

    His wife, Erim Salim, shuffled silently around the crowded Salvation Army
    center in Burlington, where they had been reunited after she borrowed from
    friends and neighbors to pay his $5,000 bond.

    "She is sick now, mentally," said Mr. Sheik, nodding toward her sadly.
    "Millions of people live here and are overstays. Why is it only for
    Pakistanis and Muslim people that they do this?"

    Hiraj Zafer, a Pakistani cook from Salt Lake City who was also trying to
    enter Canada, gave an answer. "After 9/11, people hate us," Mr. Zafer
    said.

    Mr. Sheik said: "Yes, they hate us. But we love America. We feel free
    here."



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  • #2
    Worried migrants: avoid crossing at the Quebec border!!!
    February 25, 2003

    U.S. Crackdown Sets Off Unusual Rush to Canada
    http://www.nytimes.com/2003/02/25/national/25DETA.html

    By SUSAN SACHS

    BURLINGTON, Vt., Feb. 21 Once Jalil Mirza decided to leave the United
    States to avoid possible deportation, nothing happened quite as he
    expected, not even goodbye.

    As did hundreds of other Pakistanis fleeing a post-9/11 crackdown on
    illegal immigrants, Mr. Mirza quit his job, packed up his possessions and
    headed north rather than face a forced return to Pakistan.

    After a 16-hour bus ride from Virginia with his wife and seven children,
    he arrived at the Canadian border, hoping to take advantage of Canada's
    political asylum law.

    But besieged Canadian officials told him to come back in two weeks. And
    when he dragged their suitcases back to the American side, United States
    immigration agents promptly arrested him and his two teenage sons, leaving
    the rest of the family wailing in despair in the icy cold.

    The Mirzas are part of an unusual and chaotic exodus that has jammed land
    crossings from the United States into Canada over the past two weeks,
    overwhelming immigration officials and refugee aid groups on both sides of
    the border.

    It is an oddly reluctant migration toward a presumed safe haven by people
    who say they do not really want to go but feel compelled to for fear that
    they could be deported.

    Prompted by rumors of dragnets and by new federal deadlines that require
    male foreign visitors, principally those from Muslim and Arab countries,
    to register with the government, families that lived illegally but
    undisturbed in the United States for years are now rushing to Canada. They
    get across the border only to be bounced back into the hands and jails of
    the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

    Asylum applications to Canada have increased sharply since the beginning
    of the year, according to aid workers and officials on both sides of the
    border. Most of the applicants are Pakistanis, who are required to
    register with the American immigration service by March 21. Other
    nationality groups also face various registration deadlines, but have not
    noticeably flooded the border.

    Many of the Pakistani asylum seekers said they decided to flee to Canada
    because they knew that Canada was already home to a large and growing
    population of Pakistani immigrants, especially in Montreal and Toronto.

    Even before the latest upswing this month and last month, Pakistanis
    accounted for the largest number of asylum applications to Canada,
    according to Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

    Refugee aid workers also speculated that the registration requirement hit
    Pakistani immigrants harder than other groups because more of them lived
    illegally in the United States and had less time to legalize their status
    through family ties or employment. A result is that hundreds of would-be
    refugees, some from as far away as Texas, are now camped out in Salvation
    Army shelters, mosques and other lodgings along the border, waiting for
    appointments to apply for asylum and struggling to find money to pay the
    bond to get their male relatives out of immigration detention.

    Their common refrain, as was Mr. Mirza's, is that they love America and do
    not want to leave.

    A former restaurant manager in Virginia with four young children born in
    the United States, Mr. Mirza, 45, managed to scrape together the $4,500 he
    needed to get himself and his older sons out of jail on bond. His family
    stayed two weeks in a shelter in Burlington, until today when they had an
    8 a.m. appointment with Canadian immigration officials.

    But Mr. Mirza wanted to show, one last time, that his heart was in the
    United States. "I'm going to turn and salute the American flag," he said
    as he approached the border. "I love America."

    Even that plan, though, went awry. In the most prosaic of farewells, after
    filling out forms for eight hours he and his family were driven straight
    to the Canadian post at St. Bernard Lacolle, Quebec, early in the morning
    under a milky overcast sky. No one bothered to stop him on the American
    side, where the nearest flag hung limply on a pole in the distance.

    "This is one of the most tragic events I've ever witnessed, seeing this
    exodus of good, hard-working families," said Patrick Giantonio, executive
    director of Vermont Refugee Assistance, which had found the shelter for
    the Mirzas and dozens of other Pakistani families trying to reach Canada.

    "It's a tragedy not just for their communities," Mr. Giantonio added, "but
    for the American community."

    Similar stories are playing out all along the northern border.

    At crossing points in British Columbia, some 70 people, most of them
    Pakistanis, asked for asylum in January. In all of 2002, officials said,
    only 36 Pakistanis made refugee claims.

    At land crossings into Ontario, 871 people applied for asylum in January,
    double the number just two months earlier. Last November, 5 percent of the
    asylum seekers were Pakistani. Last month, 49 percent were Pakistani,
    according to Canadian immigration officials in Toronto.

    Freedom House, an immigrant aid group in Detroit, said that since the
    beginning of the year it had registered 269 Muslim asylum seekers trying
    to reach Canada in advance of their registration deadlines. Seven out of
    10 are Pakistanis, with the rest Arabs. Normally, the group handles about
    30 cases a month.

    The surge of asylum seekers coincided with the start in December of a new
    registration program for men over the age of 15 who were in the United
    States on visitor, student or business visas. Within days, it became clear
    to foreigners that anyone registering who had overstayed a visa would be
    immediately put into deportation proceedings.

    Although the registration law, dating to 1996, applies to all foreign
    visitors, the Department of Justice has put it into effect only for men
    from 25 countries, all but one of them Arab or Muslim nations. Of the
    32,000 men who have registered so far at immigration offices around the
    country, according to officials, more than 3,000 face deportation.

    The choices for illegal Muslim immigrants, then, were stark. If they had
    been in the United States for more than one year, they no longer had the
    right to apply for asylum here. So they could have ignored the
    registration and risked deportation, registered and faced deportation or
    gone back to Pakistan. Or they could try for asylum in Canada by claiming
    they would face political persecution if forced to return home.

    They are not only overwhelming service agencies, but have also proved an
    embarrassment for the Pakistani government, which has been criticized at
    home for not demanding better treatment for its expatriates in exchange
    for its cooperation with the United States on fighting terrorism.

    After the Pakistani foreign minister protested in Washington this month
    against the registration requirement, the deadline for Pakistanis was
    extended to March 21 from Feb. 21. The change also affected men from Saudi
    Arabia, who faced the same deadline.

    But the extension is unlikely to stem the tide of people to the Canadian
    border, which has always registered shifts in immigration policy on either
    side with surges of people seeking asylum in Canada.

    The widely held perception is that Canada treats applicants with more
    leniency, although its refugee approval rate of 57 percent is not much
    higher than that of the United States, which approves 54 percent of asylum
    cases. Asylum seekers in the United States are generally placed in
    detention while their claims are assessed, however, while those waiting
    for a decision in Canada are free to work.

    Still, the latest tide of Muslim men and their families took authorities
    on both sides by surprise.

    Three weeks ago, Canadian border officials at the crossings from northern
    New York and Vermont, said they did not have enough workers to handle the
    numbers of people asking for refugee status. They began giving applicants
    appointments for several weeks later and sending them back to the American
    side of the border.

    In the past when unable to process people on the spot, Canada asked for
    assurances from the immigration service that those applicants would not be
    arrested after returning to the United States to wait for their
    interviews. But last month, Canadian authorities did not bother.

    "We realized it was useless because whether or not we got assurances, we
    could not process these people," said Rene Mercier, a spokesman for
    Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

    The United States, in turn, placed dozens of people in deportation
    proceedings even if they had documents showing an asylum appointment with
    Canada. Others, caught on their way to the border at counterterrorism
    checkpoints set up by the United States Customs Service, were arrested on
    immigration violations.

    The arrests split families and left many women and children to fend for
    themselves at isolated border posts in some of the coldest weather in
    years. At least 50 people remain in detention along the border, unable to
    post bond.

    The immigration service said its agents were simply following procedure.
    "Individuals who are illegally in the U.S. are processed the same way we
    would process them if we encountered them any other way," said Michael
    Gilhooly, a spokesman for the agency.

    But it is a shock for those at the border. "I am crying, my wife is
    crying," said Samir Sheik, a Pakistani who had been working as a street
    vendor in New York City and was arrested at a checkpoint on his way to the
    Canadian border for having overstayed his visa. "It's not fair because I
    am leaving the country."

    Mr. Sheik said that he could not return to Pakistan because he and his
    wife married against the wishes of both their families "a love marriage,"
    as he tearfully described it and that he feared his wife would be killed
    by her father.

    His wife, Erim Salim, shuffled silently around the crowded Salvation Army
    center in Burlington, where they had been reunited after she borrowed from
    friends and neighbors to pay his $5,000 bond.

    "She is sick now, mentally," said Mr. Sheik, nodding toward her sadly.
    "Millions of people live here and are overstays. Why is it only for
    Pakistanis and Muslim people that they do this?"

    Hiraj Zafer, a Pakistani cook from Salt Lake City who was also trying to
    enter Canada, gave an answer. "After 9/11, people hate us," Mr. Zafer
    said.

    Mr. Sheik said: "Yes, they hate us. But we love America. We feel free
    here."



    Edit/delete post | Report this post to a moderator



    All times are GMT. The time now is 16:26.


    Last Thread Next Thread

    Show Printable Version | Email this Page | Subscribe to this Thread


    Hop To: Please select one: -------------------- Private Messages User Control Panel Who's Online Search Forums Forums Home -------------------- Lifestyle & Culture-- The Lounge-- Australia & New Zealand-- Canada-- Europe-- Far East-- Middle East-- USA-- Rest of the World-- Moving back to the UKImmigration-- US Immigration-- US Visas-- US Marriage Based Visas-- Canadian Immigration-- Australia & New Zealand ImmigrationGeneral-- Marketplace-- Instant Messenger Support-- Site FeedbackMore Usenet Groups-- rec.travel.*---- rec.travel.africa---- rec.travel.asia---- rec.travel.australia+nz---- rec.travel.carribean---- rec.travel.europe---- rec.travel.usa-canada




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    copyright ©2001, 2002 britishexpats.com
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    Comment


    • #3
      When you paste an article, try to delete the unnecessary parts, okay hun?

      Comment

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