Border patrol

"Border patrol" Continued...

Issue: "Jim Talent: Majority maker," Nov. 23, 2002

Mr. Ristau is dissatisfied that Ms. Panagakos disputed his testimony. He filed a complaint about the judge with the Immigration and Refugee Board in order to at least lay down a marker for future hearings that are certain to arise through his church's work. "There is no reason why the court should dismiss my assessment or competency," he said. Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod president Gerald Kieschnick also protested the decision because it calls into question "a recognized minister" and "the faith of one of the communicant members of our church body."

Mr. Bissett, a former ambassador who served as director of immigration from 1985 to 1990 under Progressive Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, also is dissatisfied. When read portions of the judge's decision in Nancy's case, Mr. Bissett told WORLD he was "astounded" by the verdict. "We have a very broad interpretation on asylum. We accept wives from Trinidad who say their husbands are beating them. Why would we trust the present regime in Iran to take back a Christian?"

But neither Ms. Panagakos-like other immigration judges, she is a political appointee-nor other Canadian officials will comment on the ruling. Jacques Ayotte, spokesman for the Immigration and Refugee Board Quebec region, told WORLD, "Everything under refugee protection is confidential. We are bound by law not to publicize information in specific cases."

The Canadian government, Mr. Bissett surmised, may be singling out some Christians for deportation to avoid the appearance of targeting Muslims only as potential threats. "The policy itself is screwy," he said. "What it means is that we cannot help legitimate refugees." Unless something changes, this miscarriage of justice will send Nancy back to Iran.

Americans should care about what will happen to Nancy, and should also be concerned about what will happen to ourselves-if Canada does not change its ways thoroughly.

The 5,525-mile border the United States shares with Canada has always been a point of pride: the longest undefended border in the world. After Sept. 11, 2001, it became cause for concern. None of the 19 hijackers came to the United States via Canada, but U.S. officials had to think no further back than to December 1999 to discover a reason to worry. That's when al Qaeda conspirator Ahmed Ressam crossed to Seattle from Canada by ferry with a car trunk full of nitroglycerine and other bomb-making material. His aim: to set off a bomb in Los Angeles airport on New Year's Eve in what became known as the Millennium Plot.

Mr. Ressam is an emblem of Canada's open-door policy, an Algerian who arrived at Montreal's airport with an obviously fake passport, admitted to a criminal record, and still got in. He spent much of his time in Canada in and around Montreal's Parc Extension-and tried to set off a bomb in nearby Outremont. He failed to show up for asylum hearings but was nonetheless permitted to travel to Afghanistan and back, then head to the United States.

Now in a U.S. prison, Mr. Ressam has confirmed the ongoing existence of up to two dozen terrorist cells in Canada. The United States is trying to take precautions. One new U.S. border measure requires anyone born in Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, or Syria to be fingerprinted and photographed before entering the United States. Canada's Liberal Party government is opposing that and demanding that Canadian citizens be exempt from that provision.

Canada is apparently not only harboring terrorists but supporting them. Mr. Bissett notes that illegal arrivals are fingerprinted and photographed but seldom pursued once they enter Canada. Regardless of the legality of their status, they are entitled to free health care, education (including post-secondary), and about $320 ($500 Canadian) each month in government support. They have little incentive to show up for an asylum hearing. Canadian taxpayers are left with a $4 billion bill each year.

Another reason that Canada's system is sinking under its own weight is that it assigns top-priority status to a broad category of relatives seeking family reunification, and to unmarried "partners" as well. Officials quickly granted resident status to the mothers tutored by Nancy, along with their children, because their husbands already reside in Canada. Mr. Bissett says that four out of five immigrants are admitted to Canada "because they have relatives here." That leads to "chain migration," where entire villages are transplanted into Canada, with little regard for need or skills-or security risk.

Mr. Bissett is not the only former immigration official who says recent changes are not enough. Former deputy immigration minister Jack Manion, former diplomat Martin Collacott, and former Immigration and Refugee Board vice chairman Bill Bauer, in addition to Mr. Bissett, all testified before Canada's Parliament against new immigration measures.


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