Skip to comments.Canadian legislators complain about new U.S. immigration rules
Posted on 11/01/2002 12:45:00 AM PST by sarcasm
OTTAWA - Members of the influential House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee complained bitterly Thursday about new U.S. restrictions on foreign visitors born in the Middle East, even those with Canadian citizenship.
But Foreign Minister Bill Graham, who confirmed he had protested to Washington about the new measures, admitted there was little he could do although he agreed with one MP that the U.S. action was "deplorable."
His department warned Canadian citizens born in Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan or Syria to think carefully about whether they really wanted to visit the United States, after new rules requiring fingerprinting and photographing of such individuals.
"I have protested ... and I have raised this in writing with (U.S. Secretary of State) Colin Powell," Graham said.
The question was raised Thursday by Syrian-born Sarkis Assadourian, a member of the governing Liberal Party, who suggested Canada should insist that anyone convicted of a crime in the United States should be fingerprinted by Canadian immigration officers before being allowed into Canada.
"I am not a criminal, but I have to be fingerprinted (to go to the United States)," he said.
Graham explained, however, that Canada has "limited powers to tell other countries how to deal with immigration."
Another Liberal MP, Marlene Jennins, called the new U.S. regulations "deplorable" and asked whether the Canadian government could challenge them in U.S. courts.
"I agree with your view of the action of the United States," Graham said, saying he would look into her suggestion.
The new tension between the two North American neighbours and allies follows the deportation by the United States of a Canadian citizen, Mohamed Arar, to Syria earlier this month.
Graham explained Thursday that the United States decided Arar could be treated as a Syrian - rather than a Canadian - citizen because he had dual nationality and was travelling with passports from both countries.
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