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Article posted Mar 05 2007, 11:28 PM Category: Tyranny/Police State Source: The Globe and Mail Print

Locked in Maximum-Security Texas Detention Center, 9-Year-Old Canadian Boy Pleads For Help

Family in limbo after unscheduled stop in Puerto Rico

'Dear Mr. Prime minister haper I don’t like to stay in this jail. I’m only nine years old. I want to go to my school in Canada. I’m sleeping beside the wall. Please Mr. Priminister haper give visa for my family. This place is not good for me. I want to get out of the cell. Just pleace give visa for my family. My home land is in Canada, My life is over there. I’m also sleeping beside wasroom. Mr. Priminister haper pleace bring me and my family to Canada. Thank you so much.'

AUSTIN, TEX. — Even if you try to look past the eight-metre-high chain-link fence, beyond the scores of uniformed guards patrolling the perimeter and away from the cameras, metal detectors and lasers, there isn't the slightest evidence of children inside the T. Don Hutto Family Detention Center.

No one is playing outside; there are no sounds of laughter.

But inside the thick, whitewashed walls of this former maximum-security prison in the heart of Texas are about 170 children — including a nine-year-old Canadian boy named Kevin.

Call it international limbo. Detained by U.S. Customs officials after their flight to Toronto made an unscheduled stop on American soil nearly four weeks ago, Kevin and his Iranian parents, Majid and Masomeh, feel they are being held hostage not only by the physical parameters of Hutto, but by the politics of nationality.

“We can't go home because I am Canadian but my parents are not,” Kevin said in a telephone interview with The Globe and Mail — no personal interviews have been granted.

Majid and Masomeh — they prefer their last name not be used — initially fled Iran for Canada in January, 1995, to seek political asylum. Majid did odd jobs, eventually becoming manager of an east Toronto pizza parlour, paying the rent for their one-bedroom apartment.

In 1997, their only son, Kevin, was born. “For the first time, I was happy,” Majid said from the Hutto detention facility.

“I had my family with me — it's the only family I have — we didn't have any problems and we lived happy in Toronto.”

Kevin attended a Toronto school until Grade 3. Meanwhile, his parents were seeking refugee status, based on fear of persecution in Iran, but their application was denied and, in December, 2005, the family of three was deported.

Upon their arrival in Tehran, Majid said he was taken away from his family to a prison cell. For three months, he was detained, beaten and tortured, he said. When he was released, the three were reunited, and, with the help of friends and relatives, they connected with a people smuggler in Tehran.

“I pay him $40,000 to [get us] to Canada. It included everything: fake passports, tickets. He got $20,000 in Iran, and $20,000 in Turkey.”

Carrying Greek passports — which do not require visas for entry into Canada — they travelled to Guyana, where they eventually boarded a Toronto-bound plane.

Lorne Waldman, an immigration lawyer in Toronto, said that because of the heightened security measures put in place after Sept. 11, 2001, people smugglers have found alternate routes to get into Canada.

“We see people coming in with very exotic and complex and convoluted routes,” he said. “Moscow was one. Guyana is another ... because the smugglers believe it was a route that was subjected to less scrutiny.”

It was that belief that got Kevin and his parents onto a Zoom Airlines chartered, non-stop flight from Georgetown to Toronto.

No one could have anticipated what happened next.

“The woman sitting two seats behind me, she kept running to the washroom for vomiting. They put oxygen on her, and tell us to stay in our seats. They just said we have to divert to another city because of an emergency landing.”

A woman had suffered a heart attack and died on board. After landing in Puerto Rico, everyone was told to disembark while emergency crew removed the body.

“They say we have to pass immigration, and they say because we have Greek passport, you need to get a visa for United States. I said no, our ticket is to Toronto, we have no plan to come here.”

After being held in Puerto Rico for five days, the family was brought to Taylor, Tex., about 45 kilometres northeast of Austin, to the main U.S. family detention centre for immigrants.

“My luggage go to Toronto,” said Majid, 42, “and we have to stay here.”

Now, the three of them are locked inside the centre that, U.S. refugee advocates recently alleged, features inadequate medical care, lack of privacy and abusive behaviour by staff toward the green-uniformed detainees.

Everyone must wake up by 5:30 a.m. to take showers. They get 15 minutes to eat each meal. Everyone must be in bed by 9:30 p.m., when laser-triggered alarms are set to detect if anyone gets up.

“The day is very regimented,” said Barbara Hines, a law professor at the University of Texas who runs an immigration clinic with her students — the only way many of the detainees get representation.

“This is a prison. They have a head count three times a day where they have to be in their cells for an hour to be counted down.”

At one point, Majid walked into the room where Kevin and his mother sleep to help them fix a broken bed.

“They were told that if he violated rules, because the father's not allowed into that room, the family would be separated,” Ms. Hines said. “One of the things the detainees have reported to us is the threat of separation as a means of discipline.”

The only other detention facility that holds families is in Pennsylvania, she said — but that used to be a nursing home, not a prison. “No amount of softening it [Hutto] up, as the government says, is going to change the fact that this is a secure prison facility, not a family residential centre,” she said.

But an official at Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Jamie Zuieback, said the “residential, non-secure setting at Hutto” was opened in May to keep families together.

Kevin, meanwhile, has lost six pounds in the past two weeks because he hasn't been eating, his father said. Nearly all of the meals come from cans, Kevin complained.

“Beans, beef, sometimes they give rice. But it's all garbage.”

Kevin goes to school for four hours a day, of which only one is instructional. He said that since he left Toronto, he hasn't gone to a real school.

“My biggest wish is to go to Canada and be free, to go to my school, go for my books,” Kevin said, his father's voice audible in the background.

“I want to be safe with me and my parents, and see my teachers and my friends again.”

When the consular officer at the Canadian consulate in Dallas visited the family at Hutto two weeks ago, Majid said, “he asked about our rooms and our food. Just regarding here. I asked him what he can do for us, and he said, ‘I don't promise now. But we can help Kevin, not you.' ”

David Marshall, a consulate spokesman, said that he could not talk about the case, citing the Privacy Act.

Alain Cacchione, a spokesman for Foreign Affairs Canada, would not comment either.

But Audrey Macklin, a professor of immigration at the University of Toronto, said that this case highlights the asymmetry of Canadian citizenship.

“We say that if adults are Canadian citizens, then they can somehow confer protection of their citizenship on their children. But we don't allow the reverse,” she said from Toronto. “Instead, what we do is render, in effect, the Canadian citizenship of the child null, because he can't exercise it [and sponsor his parents]. It's as if his Canadian citizenship doesn't exist or is worthless because his parents don't have it.”

She said that if the Canadian government wanted to protect Kevin, it could.

“If protecting this child means letting the parents into Canada, is that a price worth paying? Well, I think we should seriously consider that.”

If they were allowed back into Canada, Prof. Macklin said, they could seek what is called a pre-risk removal assessment based on “new facts about what happened in Iran when they were deported.”

Above all else, Kevin, Majid and Masomeh say they want to live in Canada.

“We want to be free and safe,” Majid said. “Our plan was to go to Toronto, Canada, because it's my son's home and our home for the past few years. We have nothing there, but we were there for 10 years and it was good.”

Updated: 9-Year-Old Canadian Citizen and Iranian Parents Arrive in Toronto After Six Weeks in Texas Immigration Jail

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Comments 1 - 16 of 16 Add Comment Page 1 of 1

Posted: Mar 06 2007, 11:35 AM

12971 IF the story on this site os told truthfully, then this is an abomination on America. When did we become like this? We have to do something....and it has to be done now!

Posted: Mar 06 2007, 11:27 PM

74109 Americans are so blind it is unbelievable! you are letting Bush get away with murder and rape!

Wake up, you lost habeaus corpus (google it so you know what it means) he taps your phone, lies to you, got you in Iraq where your kids are dying or coming home mamed and mentally disturbed and most of all you are hated worldwide.

Americans are no longer the defenders of democracy, that is past, long gone, now American are rapers, thieves, criminals and genocidal bastards, this is what you became under the Bush family. YOU ARE A CURSE!

Posted: Mar 07 2007, 2:20 AM

205188 Someone asked me the other day when I was going to stop putting up with governmental abuse and start geing active in state and local affairs. My answer (represents the answer of 98% of the the American Sheople. "I don't wanna cause any trouble - I just wanna be happy" I wan't my tv reality shows and my video games.
GLOBALSTOMP, the problem is the 98% of Americans are already beaten/conditioned/brainwashed. The elite have won. There is no stopping it. You, me, and the other 2% are referred to as conspiracy theorists and alarmist. I have lost jobs trying to educate sheep. And I am fucking sick of sheep. They all DESERVE to be enslaved. So, when I refer to Sponge Bob, I am refering to the cowards. There is nothing stopping the global elite from going full swing now. And when they come for the guns, you better believe all the trash-talking rednecks will hand over their guns to feed their children. Pass the potato chips.

Posted: Mar 19 2007, 12:20 PM

205210 Wow, what a great scoop from this raw, underground site. Right off the front page of the Globe and Mail and every Canadian TV station.
Boy the mainstream media are really hiding this one....


Posted: Mar 20 2007, 1:12 AM

67162 Man, I have never seen a better excuse to leave the United States. Freedom is a relative term here. The common expletive of school children, "I'll kill you!", gets one kicked out of school. You can't wear a shirt with Muslim text on it in a public center or airport. You can't vocalize your desire to have the president die from something. If you're Muslim, anywhere in the world, you have to step in line or risk being thrown in a secret prison for descenting opinion or having relatives with curious bank records.

Then again, maybe I watch too much '24', it's all in my head, and I should never consider the information presented here as possible fact. Or, OR, perhaps that's just what the government wants me to think.

Slavery is Freedom
Hate is Love
Poverty is Wealth
War is Peace

Watch out, it's 1984!

(Disclaimer, I am being satirical, but I really do hope they get out of there, I mean no disrespect.)
David Lanham

Posted: May 04 2007, 8:18 PM

6819 PURE BULLSHIT. Can't you EEEDIOTS look at that letter and tell it wasn't written by a 9-year old?? With different colored crayons?? It's probably being staged by some Socialist organization with a racist, Hispanic-supremacist agenda.

Posted: May 31 2007, 7:10 PM

its really bad when you put a 9 year old in jail.

Posted: Jun 06 2007, 3:58 PM

20476 It is partially true at least a locla news story see link.
Kill Anchor Babies

Posted: Aug 09 2007, 7:27 AM

69181 Abort them early and often.

Posted: Sep 16 2007, 8:24 PM

21686 "trust" is a fundamental human thing...well it is a priority in my life. SO in reading all the info about this family ..they, the parents did absolutely everything against the law.Not one thing was honest that I could see/read.Did they ever think that actions have consequinces??I'll find it difficult to trust them...
FUck this website.

Posted: Oct 23 2007, 12:51 AM

76187 are you morons who read this bullshit SERIOUSLY BELIEVING THIS??!! you really cant be, i mean you deserve to have a bullet put right through your head, id rather have people willing to lock up 9 year old boys than people as gullible to liberal extremism propaganda living near me.

Posted: Oct 23 2007, 5:36 AM

jessica santos

Posted: May 08 2010, 3:57 PM

74255 wtf?!! a nine year old in jail?.. come on!!! what is wrong with you people these days?..yall just dont know who else 2 put in jail..and 16867 wat you mean with everyone should be concerned with us hispanics crossin the border? everybody should just mind their own business..wat is up with yall?????
jose ernesto gomez alas

Posted: Aug 26 2010, 4:35 PM

20825 nesesito saber si el se encuentra en esa detencion
another canadian

Posted: Nov 25 2010, 3:18 AM

7026 i also was in this facility awaiting deportation... i wont debate whether or not i should or should not have been there, as i had been convicted of attempted re-entry into the united states... my personal views of my own detention are irrelevant in this issue.... however, as someone who HAS EXPERIENCED and SEEN FIRST HAND the abysmal state of the facility, the disturbing treatment of people who were there not for completing a sentence, but awaiting deportation, i can say without hesitation that it is a stain on decency everywhere... it is a shame that we can tolerate today, in a world that claims decency a callous and irresponsible attitude in the treatment of others... this story is ABSOLUTELY TRUE and didnt begin to touch on the realites of this facility!

Posted: Nov 01 2012, 8:04 AM

205178 I just learned of this place yesterday in my education class.... It is jaw dropping. And to be honest i felt lied to by my K-12 education.. because i never learned real--issues happening in the country I live in...let alone the ones around me... Until now. It's sad! What the overall education has been requiring to teach varies by state...unfortunately it has been nothing but memorization (colors,states, defenitions, times tables, why a leaf disintegrates) so that we can move through our daily lives, unaware of what is going on in our country... while these all maybe useful.. They do nothing but provide back up as to why people knock us "Americas" down... Anyway .,. This is true... And sad. We get angry because we are uneducated..not fair.. I feel I was, that I knew it all, stood up for "people's beliefs" anyways...Thank you all for sharing these comments.. I'll find the documentary link i watched on this place and paste here... I'm sorry to those affected by this place...Because as an American, and at 27 years old... I had no idea "my homeland" was and IS treating people--- not immigrants..,. People ----this way. It is hands down humiliating, and heart breaking.. And I am disappointed...
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