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Iranian Canadians say they are being punished with travel restrictions for being conscripted as young men

With the vacation season simply across the nook, many are planning to travel, however Saskatoon resident Amir Abolhassani says he and plenty of different Iranian Canadians might be shoveling snow at residence.

Abolhassani offered his home in Saskatoon when his U.S.-based employer requested him to relocate to North Carolina. But on the Calgary airport this January, his household was not allowed to cross the border. 

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer informed Abolhassani, who’s a Canadian citizen, that it was due to time he spent as a conscript in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) greater than a decade in the past.

The Trump administration labelled the IRGC as a terrorist group in 2019.

Abolhassani stated all men in Iran above the age of 18 must do necessary service with one of many arms of the navy, and one in three are assigned to the IRGC. He stated refusing conscription would stop a person from getting a passport or accessing civic facilities, and may typically result in additional punishment.

He stated it isn’t honest to be punished for having been conscripted.

“We are not Canadian residents sufficient. Are we actually Canadians at this level?” he stated.

“There are individuals who are not in a position to say their final goodbye to their mother and father within the United States. A sick little one who must be handled there cannot go.”

Amir Abolhassani was just lately requested by his employer concerning the standing of his transfer to the U.S., however up to now is being allowed to work remotely. He says he worries for his future and of his month-old daughter. (Kayla Guerrette/CBC)

CBC spoke with 25 Iranian Canadians who unanimously agreed that they are being handled as second-class residents. All say their emails to native members of parliament and officers on the federal stage have fallen on deaf ears.

Many say they are subjected to a secondary screening involving lengthy, intrusive interviews and an in depth search of their belongings, cellphones and social media, even when coming into Canada.

While all welcome Canada’s latest choice to ban senior IRCG officers, they need the federal government to not put former conscripts in the identical basket.

A snapshot of a boarding pass.
Iranian Canadians with previous conscription with IRGC usually obtain a ‘4S’ designation, which stands for Secondary Security Screening Selection, on their boarding passes. Vancouver resident Navid Sadeghiani and his household got them in July whereas travelling to Paris. (Submitted by Navid Sadeghiani)

According to the latest census, there are 213,160 individuals of Iranian descent in Canada. Abolhassani stated some 80,000 could possibly be impacted by this subject, together with his daughter, who’s barely a month outdated.

“I’m involved with over 200 households equivalent to some 600 Iranian Canadians in the identical boat,” he stated.

Global Affairs Canada declined to remark, redirecting the question to the Canada Border Services Agency.

In a written assertion an identical to 1 it offered after a earlier CBC inquiry on the topic, CBSA stated it doesn’t monitor cases of Iranian Canadians being denied entry to the United States and different international locations.

“The CBSA doesn’t possess any energy or authority to intervene within the immigration choices made by different nations,” the assertion learn.

CBC News reached out to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and CBP for a remark, however didn’t obtain a response.

‘Canada is offloading duty to the U.S.’: Alberta man

Abolhassani stated he was just lately requested twice by his employer about his transfer to the U.S., however up to now he’s being allowed to work remotely.

Mojtaba Siahpoosh, a resident of Okotoks, Alta., stated he acquired a discover from his employer per week in the past saying he would lose his place by the top of the yr.

“They’ve been ready for me, as I used to be employed to cowl each Western Canada and the U.S., however I used to be given inadmissibility [to the U.S.] final October,” he stated.

“I attempted once more this July. We arrived on the border round 8:30 a.m. and have been interrogated for seven hours, together with my spouse and two very young youngsters, who have been born and raised in Canada.”

A man and a woman sit on a bench with their two young kids in a pumpkin patch.
Mojtaba Siahpoosh says he and different Iranian Canadians are being discriminated in opposition to whereas Canada offloads duty to the U.S. (Elena Matkovska Photography)

Before 2019, the 44-year-old had been touring to the U.S. for years.

Siahpoosh felt he was “being handled like a felony,” as he was accompanied by the CBP officers even to deliver child method from their automotive.

During his conscription interval in 2006, Siahpoosh was tasked with archive and journal paperwork.

“I’ve by no means picked up any arms in my life. That day on the border was essentially the most exhausting day in my life,” he stated.

“We are being discriminated in opposition to and Canada is offloading duty to the U.S. I really feel like a third-class citizen.”

‘Crushing a bit boy’s dream to lift the Canadian flag’: Vancouver man

Vancouver resident Navid Sadeghiani agrees. His son Arshia Sadeghiani, a Canadian champion in robotics, was not allowed to enter the U.S. with the robotics group from his  West Vancouver college district to attend the world championship in Dallas.

The 13-year-old was denied on May 7 as a result of his father had been conscripted in Iran greater than 30 years in the past.

The household, together with their 10-year-old, usually has to reach 4 hours early when touring to any nation that could be a U.S. ally and face intensive secondary screenings earlier than boarding.

“My youngsters ask me, ‘Daddy, why do they ask us such questions?’ What ought to I inform them? When Trudeau says a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian, I do not consider in that,” Navid stated.

“Even when returning to Canada, we have now to be redirected to immigration after we are Canadians. It looks like we’re being despatched to jail.”

A masked boy tilts down his head while holding a trolly bag.
Arshia Sadeghiani, 13, doesn’t need to proceed his future in robotics after he was not allowed to enter the U.S. with the robotics group of his West Vancouver college district to attend the world championship in Dallas, his father says. (Submitted by Navid Sadeghiani)

The 50-year-old feels unhappy for his son, who was depressed after the refusal. 

“He did not need to speak and now he would not need to see a future in robotics as a result of he cannot travel or pursue his greater research there,” Navid stated.

“They are crushing a bit boy’s dream to lift the Canadian flag within the U.S. His future is being destroyed. Canada must act.”

Sara Ebrahimi, one other B.C. resident, needed to inform her daughter who wished to pursue her schooling in New York the identical factor, after the household was stopped final month on the border on their approach to Seattle. 

“It’s so offensive, after paying all of the taxes right here, I can not go to my siblings and household within the U.S. It’s taking an emotional toll on us. I can not go to most locations in Europe and the Caribbean for trip,” she stated.

“We Iranian Canadian ladies must pay the worth. We thought we had independence right here, however no we aren’t free.”

WATCH | Canada bans prime Iranian revolutionary guard members in new sanctions:

Canada bans prime Iranian revolutionary guard members in new sanctions

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland introduced a brand new spherical of sanctions on Iran, banning the highest 50 per cent of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps members from coming into Canada.



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