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Article posted Mar 26 2007, 1:54 AM Category: Tyranny/Police State Source: Democracy Now! Print

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

After six weeks in a Texas immigration jail, a nine year-old Canadian citizen and his Iranian parents were released and allowed back into Canada last night. Canadian immigration authorities have granted the boy's parents temporary residency. We speak with their attorney. [includes rush transcript]

One month ago, Democracy Now! first covered the case of a nine-year-old Canadian boy held in a U.S. immigration jail along with his Iranian-born parents. Kevin Yourdkhani, his father Majid and his mother Masomeh, had been on their way to seek asylum in Canada when their plane was forced to make an emergency landing in Puerto Rico. US officials took them into custody and sent them to the T. Don Hutto Family Detention Center in Taylor, Texas. Kevin was one of an estimated two hundred immigrant children being held there. He spoke to us from the jail in what was his first broadcast interview. After six weeks in the Texas immigration jail, Kevin and his parents are back in Canada. They arrived in Toronto last night. Canadian immigration authorities have granted Kevin's parents temporary residency. For more we go now to Toronto where I'm joined by the family's attorney, Andrew Brouwer.
  • Andrew Brouwer, attorney in Canada.

JUAN GONZALEZ: One month ago, Democracy Now! first covered the case of a nine-year-old Canadian boy held in a US immigration jail along with his Iranian-born parents. Kevin Yourdkhani, his father Majid and his mother Masomeh had been on their way to seek asylum in Canada, when their plane was forced to make an emergency landing in Puerto Rico. US officials took them into custody and sent them to the T. Don Hutto Family Detention Center in Taylor, Texas. Kevin was one of an estimated 200 immigrant children being held there. He spoke to us from the jail in what was his first broadcast interview.

KEVIN YOURDKHANI: I want to be free. I want to go outside, and I want to go to school. I want to be in my homeland: Canada.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, today, after six weeks in the Texas immigration jail, Kevin and his parents are back in Canada. They arrived in Toronto last night. Canadian immigration authorities have granted Kevinís parents temporary residency. For more on this story, we go to Toronto, and weíre joined on the phone by the family's attorney, Andrew Brouwer. Welcome to Democracy Now!, Andrew.

ANDREW BROUWER: Thanks very much.

AMY GOODMAN: So tell us what happened.

ANDREW BROUWER: Well, they arrived last night. After an awful lot of campaigning and a lot of publicity about the case, the Canadian government finally agreed to issue permanent -- or temporary residence visas to the family. And then, that took another week and half, I guess, for the two countries to figure out exactly how to process it and for the Americans to finally release them and put them on a plane to Toronto.

AMY GOODMAN: And what happens to them now in Toronto?

ANDREW BROUWER: Well, Kevin, of course, is a Canadian citizen, so he has a right to stay here for his life. The issue is being able to live here with his parents. So weíve got two immigration processes that we can follow: one is a humanitarian and compassionate request for permanent status, which would be based in large part on the fact that Kevin is a Canadian and he should be allowed to be with his parents; and the other is called a pre-removal risk assessment, which is really a sort of a paper asylum claim. Unfortunately, that paper asylum claim has a 97% rejection rate, so the chances of success generally on that are not great. But on the other hand, this is a family who has suffered terribly and very serious human rights abuses in Iran, not to mention the States, so at this point I think they do have a strong case.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Did you ever get from US immigration officials an explanation of why they took them, even though they werenít even coming into the United States?

ANDREW BROUWER: No, I am still hoping that this is something that we can clear up, because it was clearly inappropriate for this family to be detained in the United States, particularly a child -- I mean, any child. But for a Canadian child who was en route back home to be picked up and detained and kept for six weeks in a US jail is clearly offensive, and I think many Canadians have been outraged by this treatment.

AMY GOODMAN: Iím looking at a peace in the Canadian press, headlined "Canadian Boy and Iranian Parents Arrive in Toronto After Release from Texas Jail.Ē And it says that just as they were leaving Houston, they said Iranian security police came onto the plane and escorted them into a room -- this is when they were deported back to Iran, where after a while Kevin was released to the care of his grandmother. So, when they were deported from Canada to Iran, both parents were detained -- is this right, Andrew? And when they got out, they escaped and then tried to head back to Canada through Turkey?

ANDREW BROUWER: Yeah, that's right. They were detained on arrival at the airport in Iran. Both parents were detained and tortured -- Masomeh for about a month, and Majid for six months -- where they were both brutally treated. And thatís why they eventually decided they had to try again to get out and make a new refugee claim back in Canada.

AMY GOODMAN: How much attention is this getting in Canada? We commented last time, in this country this story has almost gotten no attention, and yet it is headlines in the newspapers and top story in the Canadian press. How much difference does that make?

ANDREW BROUWER: Thatís had a huge impact. I mean, there have been a number of factors, but certainly Kevin, the interview he did with you folks, as well as another one that he did on Canadian radio, and a letter that he wrote with colored markers to the prime minister of Canada saying, ďIím a Canadian. Please let me come back and let me go to school. I don't like it in this jail.Ē That was published on the front page of one of Canada's national newspapers, and I think all of that and the other media attention has had a massive impact on pressuring the Canadian government to bring this family back.

AMY GOODMAN: What about the role of Ralph Eisenberg? A piece says Ralph Eisenberg never met the nine-year-old Canadian boy he helped to spring from a Texas immigration jail, but the fate of Kevin Yourdkhani, who finally headed to Toronto yesterday with his Iranian parents, is still very personal for Eisenberg, a wealthy Dallas property manager. He said, ďI am so happy. I pray to God that Canadians welcome that family home.Ē Now, itís onto the next family.

ANDREW BROUWER: Yeah, heís an amazing guy. Really, out of nowhere, at least from my perspective. We found out that he was there. He was willing to do anything he could to bring this family home. He offered to pay their tickets, their flights back to Canada. He covered their about a thousand US dollars in immigration fees that the Canadian government levied for the family to come back. All of it. He was there, and I was talking to him daily, and he kept reiterating, ďTell me what I can do, tell me what I can do.Ē Itís pretty amazing.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, one of the stories -- again, in Canada -- on him quote him as saying that the US Immigration Control and Enforcement is out of control. ďThey need to be put out of business. You canít allow a law enforcement agency to have such power over all these foreign nationals. ICE, in itself, is creating terrorists of the future by jailing kids, nine, ten or fifteen years old.Ē And amazingly, this is a Dallas businessman, but the news is being reported in Canada, not in the United States.

ANDREW BROUWER: Yeah, thatís really interesting. You know, I donít know a lot about whatís going on in the States, but certainly from reports that Iíve read, it does sound like the use of detention is unbelievably widespread in the US for asylum seekers and other people without status. And, you know, the simple fact that there are around 200 kids at this T. Don Hutto Detention Center in this States is completely astounding, and I think that a lot of Canadians reading the coverage of Kevin's case have been a little bit more educated about just whatís going on down there.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Andrew Brouwer, I want to thank you very much for joining us from Toronto, attorney for Kevin and his parents, who have now just arrived in Toronto. There are about 200 children at the detention facility in Taylor, Texas. The ACLU has brought suit on their behalf. This story began when the family was brought down in Puerto Rico because a passenger had a heart attack, and so the plane landed there, instead of going straight onto Canada.

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Comments 1 - 3 of 3 Add Comment Page 1 of 1

Posted: Apr 30 2007, 10:26 PM

142162 From a Canadian who sees people for all their worth.Historically they will hear the case -charge a fee for this another fee for another. charge the family a small fortune in payments and them to leave.I've this so many really don't think our govt. is any better than yours.Canada gets it's orders from the same assholes that are ruining America. Our politicians are just as buyable as any. so expect nothing.

Posted: Jul 25 2007, 5:28 PM

Yeah so it seems Now, Anonymous.

Funny the impression I got, from growing up in the sixties and seventies, was that Canada was a big-hearted generous country, with all the freedoms of no land pressures and insider business interests, you know what I mean, and Canadians seemed to bear this their Bearing , peaceful and uncomplicated: Free. The government seemed to have a mind of its own.

How quickly things change.

So Kevin is Canadian because he's born on Canadian soil: that's wicked, and a pointless thing to confer nationality in that way. I presume, therefore being Canadian, the government could forcibly evict the parents and withhold Kevin against all their wishes. What, his parents can just go away and leave him in foster homes? Agenda: Destroy the family.

In Europe, you have nationality of the parents, or the chance, when older to get dual nationality.

Posted: Feb 16 2008, 3:36 PM

21646 I am pretty sure as a Home owner and a tax payer myself, That if the American people really knew where their hard earned tax dollar was truly being spent on concerning I.C.E. and Homeland security and These so called Detention/Processing Centers They would really not be very pleased with their government and political reps.
I spoke to a few guards and a lot of them are leaving the state guard positions and going into These detentions centers because they get paid so much more.
I am a truck driver from Ontario and I spent 4 months in a Texas Detention center.I am 55 years old. From what I have seen and expierenced The whole American Justice is system is nothing but a Sham and there is no Justice in that legal system where Immigration and I.C.E. is involved.
These Processing/Detention centers are a play toy for ICE to operate like a Federal Jail. They Don't care who they fill the beds with, just so long as they fill them. They are paid x amount of dollars per filled Bed by the Federal Government (Yes, you the Taxpayer). So the longer they keep the beds filled, the longer the money keeps coming. Does the Government want the illegals to stop coming into the country? NOT A CHANCE.
Don't believe me, well spend some time in a detention center and you will see for yourself. Talk to the detainee's, they are not all just the person you think is trying to sneak into the country, Many have been in the US for 10,20 and one I spoke to was in the US for 30 years,owned a house paid his taxes,supported business in his town. These people had Green Cards.
A Jamaican was in the bed next to me, He been in the US for 15 years,Green Card, Home, And Family. He is From New York City. Someone tried to Rob Him he got the better of the robber and he told me,that he beat him up. Sounded Kinda funny to me, I thought the robber got what he deserved. Anyway my friend got charged with a Felony. They put him in in a detention center and shipped him down to Texas to P.I.S.P.C. He spent 7 months and 17,000 dollars to remain in the US. He told me he had to re-mortgage his home to pay Lawyers Fee's to bring him from NY to Texas. After all that time and Money, Get This.....The Judge dismissed the case....Threw it out. His reason was, that the holder of a green card in the US, to be deported must have 2 felony's and he was only charged with one. The Law knew this from the beginning. There are all kinds of true stories like these.
For my offense I first appeared in Criminal court and was given a year unsupervised probation and told by the court I was free to go. ICE thought otherwise with their job creation program. Here is another filled bed so lets keep him. I appeared in their Immigration court and the Judge Petersen was the person that sat on the bench. I won't call him "Honorable Judge"because he was not. He said to the crown prosecutor, I can't deport this man based on what he is being charged with, He said, He is not guilty of the offense. And yes,I have proof That I wasn't Guilty of the charges and that is why I was let off with probation in Criminal court. My opinion is, that if the system was a justice system and the people working it were honest and honorable He would have just threw the case out and I would have left and gone back to my own country. He did not rule that...instead he did deport me on the false charges knowing full well they weren't true. You talk about the criminal, just take a close look at these Judges,Crown Prosecutor's, and Lawyers they are the criminals, they just do it under the disguise of the law.
I am not surprised to read about that 9 year old boy and his family. There are many many people and families that are being put in these centers That do not belong.
Those Detention Centers are nothing but a money making and job creation program. Privately owned by Family's and Corp. or maybe even Government.
I heard a rumor That the Bush Family has a hand in these facilities. wouldn't surprise me.

Also while I was in their I heard on the TV that Mexico was opening up their Boarders. Guess what that does?? It puts more illegals at the US Boarders. I Don't know, But if I were a betting man I would bet the American Government has a Hand or Arm in That one.
Most people don't like to be accused of something they know and can prove they are not guilty of, I am no different. I wrote to the Department of Homeland Security in Washington to correct a wrong. Will They do anything about it? My Guess is "No" they will not because they are just as crooked as the system is. My opinion is that the Judge and prosecutor should both be removed from the Justice system and not be allowed to Practice. They are both Corrupt.

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