WASHINGTON — A new immigration-security policy to
screen Canadian citizens born in the Middle East
remains “in force,” INS inspectors said today,
despite claims to the contrary by Canadian officials.
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham last
week announced that he had received “firm assurances”
from U.S. officials that Arab-Canadians “will not be
treated any differently” upon entering the U.S. than
other Canadian visitors.
The U.S. screening policy, which fully went into
effect Oct. 1, gives inspectors the discretion to
fingerprint, photograph and monitor Canadian nationals
born in the following “special interest” countries:
Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Libya and Syria — as well as
Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, as WorldNetDaily
first reported Sept. 19.
The policy is part of the National Security Entry-Exit
Registration System, or NSEERS, authorized under the
USA Patriot Act, which was passed in response to last
year’s terrorist attacks on America.
“We are still doing NSEERs on Canadians born in
special-interest countries,” said a veteran INS
inspector. “But it is very much hush-hush right now.”
He added that Secretary of State Colin Powell is
having to do the “soft toe dance with the Canadian
foreign minister over this, because it is causing a
big stir in Canada and could affect our relations over
the long run.”
According to a long Sept. 5 INS memo updating field procedures, the NSEERS policy that applies to Arab-Canadians and other dual nationals reads:
“A case that might warrant discretionary registration
could be: A nonimmigrant alien who is a dual national
and is applying for admission as a national of a
country that is not subject to special registration,
but the alien’s other nationality would subject him or
her to special registration.”
In response to concerns expressed by the Canadian
government, the State Department late Friday released
a statement clarifying the policy.
“Place of birth by itself will not automatically
trigger registration,” said the statement released
through the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa.
But the statement continued: “U.S. immigration
officials reserve the right to register any aliens,
including Canadians, whom they believe pose a threat
to the United States.”
Canadian Embassy spokesman Bernard Etzinger told
WorldNetDaily he took the statement to mean, “There
will no longer be an automatic second line” for
INS inspectors says they will continue to treat all
Canadian visitors with respect. But they say those
born in the special-interest countries will be
processed through NSEERS as the law requires.
They add that they also have the discretion to
specially register any Canadian nationals who have
made unexplained trips to countries deemed a security
risk by the U.S., including: Iran, Iraq, Libya,
Sudan, Syria, North Korea, Cuba, Saudi Arabia,
Afghanistan, Yemen, Egypt, Somalia, Pakistan,
Canada has more than 210,000 Mideast immigrants, among
them suspected al-Qaida terrorists.
Graham got a standing ovation from caucus members in
the House of Commons Thursday after announcing that he
got assurances from the U.S. that Canadian citizens
born in the Mideast “will not be subject to
fingerprinting,” as the Canadian Press put it.
Graham had spoken with U.S. ambassador Paul Cellucci,
as well as Powell and Attorney General John Ashcroft,
who authorized the new INS screening policy.
But it appears Graham read more into the conversations
than U.S. officials meant to convey.
“Canada took what they wanted out of a conversation
with Mr. Powell and came away believing we were not
going to do NSEERS on their citizens,” said one INS
The Saudis also walked away from meetings with top
Justice officials thinking that the policy had been
canceled, and that no Saudi visitors would be
fingerprinted, including men between the ages of 16
But the Saudis read into written Justice statements
things that weren’t there, as WorldNetDaily first reported.
Now the Saudi government has threatened to fingerprint
Americans who enter Saudi.
Fifteen of the Sept. 11 hijackers were Saudi
nationals, along with al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden,
and members of the Saudi government are suspected of
financing al-Qaida through various Islamic charities.