Iranian-Canadians say they are being punished by travel bans because they were recruited as teenagers.
With the holiday season approaching, many people are planning to travel, but Saskatoon resident Amir Abolhosni says he and many other Iranian Canadians will be shoveling snow at home.
Abulhasni sold his home in Saskatoon when his US-based employer asked him to move to North Carolina. But at Calgary’s airport this January, his family was denied permission to cross the border.
A U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer told Abolhasani, a Canadian citizen, that this is because he served in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) more than a decade ago. Spent time as a recruit.
The Trump administration had designated the IRGC as a terrorist organization in 2019.
All men in Iran over the age of 18 are required to serve in one of the army’s arms, and one in three is assigned to the IRGC, Abolhosni said. Denial of conscription will prevent a man from obtaining a passport or access to civilian facilities, and can sometimes lead to further punishment, he said.
He said that it is not appropriate to punish for recruitment.
“We are not Canadian citizens enough. Are we really Canadian at this point?” They said.
“There are people who are not able to say goodbye to their parents in America. A sick child who needs treatment there cannot go.”
CBC spoke to 25 Iranian Canadians who unanimously agreed that they are being treated like second-class citizens. All told local Members of Parliament and federal level officials have fallen on deaf ears to their emails.
Many say they are subjected to secondary screening that includes long, intrusive interviews and extensive searches of their belongings, cellphones and social media, even when entering Canada.
While all welcome Canada’s recent decision. Ban on senior officials of IRCGthey want the government not to put the former recruits in the same basket.
According to Recent censusThere are 213,160 people of Iranian descent in Canada. Abolhasani said the problem could affect around 80,000 people, including his daughter, who is barely a month old.
“I’m in contact with over 200 families in the same boat that belong to about 600 Iranian Canadians,” he said.
Global Affairs Canada declined to comment, referring questions to the Canada Border Services Agency.
In a written statement provided hereafter. A previous CBC inquiry. On this topic, the CBSA said it does not track cases of Iranian Canadians being denied entry to the United States and other countries.
“The CBSA has no power or authority to interfere in the immigration decisions of other countries,” the statement said.
CBC News reached out to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and CBP for comment, but did not receive a response.
‘Canada is putting the onus on America’: Alberta man
Abulhasni said his employer asked him twice recently about his move to the US, but so far he is being allowed to work remotely.
Okotoks, Alta., resident Mujtaba Syahposh said he received a notice from his employer a week ago saying he would lose his position by the end of the year.
“They were waiting for me, because I was hired to cover both Western Canada and the U.S., but I was given inadmissibility. [to the U.S.] Last October,” he said.
“I tried again this July. We arrived at the border around 8:30 a.m. and were interrogated for seven hours, including my wife and two very young children, who were born and raised in Canada. had grown.”
Before 2019, the 44-year-old had been touring the US for years.
Seyah Posh felt he was being “treated like a criminal,” as he was accompanied by CBP officers even to retrieve baby formula from his car.
During his tenure in 2006, Black was tasked with archival and journal paperwork.
“I have never carried a weapon in my life,” he said. That day at the border was the most tiring day of my life.
“We’re being discriminated against and Canada is putting the onus on America, I feel like a third-class citizen.”
‘Crushing a little boy’s dream to fly Canada’s flag’: Vancouver man
Vancouver resident Naveed Sadiqiani agreed. Her son Arshiya Sidighiani, a Canadian champion in robotics, was denied entry to the United States with a robotics team from her West Vancouver school district to attend the world championships in Dallas.
The 13-year-old was denied on May 7 because his father was recruited into Iran 30 years ago.
The family, including their 10-year-old child, often have to arrive four hours early when traveling to any country that is a US ally and face extensive secondary screening before boarding.
“My children ask me, ‘Daddy, why do they ask us such questions?’ What do I tell them? When Trudeau says a Canadian is a Canadian, I don’t believe it,” Navid said.
“Even when we come back to Canada, when we’re Canadians we have to be sent to immigration. It feels like we’re being sent to jail.”
The 50-year-old is sad for his son, who became depressed after the rejection.
“He didn’t want to talk and now he doesn’t want to see a future in robotics because he can’t travel there or get his higher education,” Navid said.
“They are destroying a little boy’s dream of flying a Canadian flag in America, destroying his future. Canada needs to act.”
Another BC resident, Sarah Ibrahimi, had to say the same thing to her daughter, who wanted to study in New York, when the family was stopped at the border on their way to Seattle last month.
“It’s so disgusting, after paying all the taxes here, I can’t visit my siblings and family in America, it’s taking an emotional toll on us. I’ve been to Europe and most of the Caribbean for vacations. Can’t go,” she said.
“We Iranian Canadian women have to pay the price. We thought we had freedom here, but no we are not free.”