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Canadians angry over border policies


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Some of the shit they're doing now is so dumb and iunecessary! Thanks Bush! :mad:


TORONTO, Canada (AP) -- Michel Jalbert has spent a month in a Maine jail. Maher Arar is in custody in Syria. Both are Canadians, and their cases have caused growing anger at home over tighter U.S. border policies since the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham will raise the issue Thursday during a one-day visit by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell to discuss possible military action against Iraq.

Canada has criticized a U.S. screening system that fingerprints and photographs visitors from countries suspected of terrorist links, and even issued a travel advisory warning people born in Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan and Syria to avoid trips south of the border.

The Americans responded by promising Canadians equal treatment but nothing more, saying U.S. security overrides concerns of unfair treatment.

Graham rescinded the travel advisory last week, but Foreign Affairs spokesman Rodney Moore said the "high-profile consular cases" would be discussed during Powell's visit.

Arar, who holds joint Canadian-Syrian citizenship, was detained September 26 while changing planes at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport during a trip from Tunisia to his home in Montreal. He was questioned and then deported to Syria, which drew a protest from Graham, who said Arar should have been sent to Canada.

The U.S. National Security Entry Exit Registration System, set up a year after the September 11 attacks, authorizes border officials to fingerprint and photograph people who were born in or are citizens of the five countries accused by the U.S. government of terrorism links.

U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, responding to Canadian concerns, said last week that being born in one of the countries was not an automatic referral into the registration system, but he said citizens of any country could come under increased monitoring.

"No nation is exempt," he said, denying the system amounted to racial profiling. "It is not based on ethnic criterion or religious criterion. It is based on intelligence data."

Canada's Muslim community disagrees, issuing its own warning this week that travel to the United States by Canadian Muslims could bring delays, questioning and even detention.

"Muslims are being humiliated, intimidated and treated as criminals at American border crossings -- and this is all because of their religion, appearances, dress, names, or where they were born," said Mohamed Elmasry, president of the Canadian Islamic Congress.

Canadian author Rohinton Mistry, a native of India, recently canceled the American portion of a book tour because of repeated harassment by U.S. authorities when traveling to America.

Jalbert's case has nothing to do with Islam. The 32-year-old French-speaking Quebecer lives near the Maine border and was arrested October 11 for doing what people in Pohenegamook, Quebec, have done for years -- driving a few meters (yards) into U.S. territory to buy gas.

The station on the border is about a kilometer (half a mile) from an American border post on a road used primarily for logging in northern Maine. Residents have routinely bought gas without first driving further to register with U.S. authorities.

When Jalbert, 32, stopped for gas, a hunting rifle in his vehicle attracted the attention of a U.S. policeman. A check of his record found a 13-year-old criminal conviction for vandalism and possessing stolen property, making him inadmissible for entry to the United States.

Jalbert faces felony charges of illegally entering the country and illegal possession of a firearm, which carry a maximum 10-year prison sentence. Locals call the case unnecessary U.S. harassment, while U.S. officials respond that border security changed after the September 11 attacks.

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