Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Too alike for comfort

I have been spending hours during the past couple of weeks trying to help a friend.... He immigrated to this country out of a deep sense of idealism. He felt that he was coming home. He wanted to serve his people, build a life for himself and his family. Like me, he immigrated from the States. He has been living here for years and has scored some real achievements, including making a name for himself in the business world.

His name is Sam Bahour, and he is Palestinian.... At the end of this month, in a few days, Sam will have to leave the country again - but this time he will not be coming back.

Sam Bahour only has his US passport and that document is no longer useful for getting him permission to live in Ramallah.... The official I spoke to is implementing a policy which is nothing more than a form of ethnic cleansing....

Gershon Baskin
Jeruasalem Post
Sept. 25, 2006

Five months after they were barred from returning to the United States despite being citizens, Hamid Hayat's uncle and cousin returned to their Lodi home Monday....

"I never imagined that the country I was born in would stop me from coming home for five months and separate me from my family, especially when I was not even charged with a crime," Jaber Ismail said in a statement.

[FBI] agents questioned Jaber Ismail, one of the young men Hamid Hayat had named during his own FBI interviews before he was arrested in June 2005. The allegations were vague and came hours into the interviews, which defense attorneys and a retired FBI agent said were coerced. [Hamid Hayat was convicted and his case is on appeal.]

No charges were filed against the Ismails, but when Jaber Ismail refused to take a polygraph test the two were barred from returning to the U.S. [Their attorney] filed a complaint with the federal government, and last month the Department of Homeland Security changed their status.

Lodi News Sentinel
Oct. 2, 2006

Every person has the right to a nationality. Yet statelessness continues to be a fundamental cause of discrimination, exploitation, and forced displacement in all regions of the world. ...

States have the sovereign right to determine the procedures and conditions for acquisition and termination of citizenship, but statelessness and disputed nationality can only be addressed by the very governments that regularly breach protection and citizenship norms. To date, only 57 states have become party to the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and even fewer states, just 29, are party to the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.

[The United States is not a signatory; Israel has signed the former convention.]

The exact number of individuals affected by statelessness is not known. Refugees International believes the low end estimate to be over 11 million.

Lives on Hold
Refugees International

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