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February 2, 2006 9:42 AM   Subscribe

What countries are most likely to take in an Arab Muslim family whose husband is being kicked out of the US for political reasons?

An Arab Muslim family is being kicked out of the US political reasons. Well, the father and husband's lost his citizenship and is being forcibly expelled from the US, and his wife and children want to go with him.

He's on various US s--tlists so it's not likely a place like the UK would take them. I'm looking for countries that would take this family in - particularly countries that are a good place for young girls who have grown to pre-teen-hood in the West to grow up. Countries that have a history of accepting individuals and families like this from the US, UK, Australia and the like are especially choice answers.

Ideas I've gotten so far include Dominica (has taken expelled UK Arab Muslim dissidents) and Venezuela (loves to make protesting gestures). Email's in my profile if you'd like more details. And yes, this is quite unjust and this gentle family does not deserve this.
posted by By The Grace of God to Law & Government (29 answers total)
posted by matteo at 9:54 AM on February 2, 2006

Response by poster: I've gotten Cuba, too, as a suggestion. :) It is definitely on the list, but it would be a big difference for those girls as well. It also is lacking in political and personal freedom, albeit for different reasons than the US is for this family.

Does Cuba take in particularly Muslim political no-no people from the US?
posted by By The Grace of God at 9:57 AM on February 2, 2006

What part of the arab world is this family from? Saudi Arabia? iRaq? Iran?

I have a friend of mine here in Switzerland who fled Iran in the early 80s with her mother, with precious few things other than the stuff in their suitcases. Switzerland was kinda accomodating to them... maybe this family can make a case for political persecution / hardship etc.?
posted by slater at 10:05 AM on February 2, 2006

What is their background and what are their skills generally? If the parents are well educated, have some cash and are middle class they could probably have a good life in a lot of countries - my sister in law and her kids have it very good in Bangladesh, for example, and would never leave.

Would the dad fail a CIA background check? I've no idea about the process involved in emigrating to a developing country, and whether the paperwork is so onerous as US/Canadian/Irish/etc immigration.

(And how on earth does one "lose citizenship"? Are the kids US citizens? If so, staying and visiting dad in Venezuela/wherever a couple of times a year may be the way to go. I can't imagine there's much of an Arab expat support community in Cuba or Venezuela).
posted by jamesonandwater at 10:09 AM on February 2, 2006

Response by poster: The mom and dad are originally from a West Bank Palestinian refugee camp. The kids visited last year and... didn't adjust well. Palestinians often get treated like crud by other Middle Eastern countries including the ones that purport to support Palestine and they often wind up stateless when this happens to them.
posted by By The Grace of God at 10:10 AM on February 2, 2006

Response by poster: The dad's citizenship was revoked.
posted by By The Grace of God at 10:18 AM on February 2, 2006

Response by poster: Dad's a professor, Mom's a homemaker.

Yeah, he'd fail a CIA background check, I think.
posted by By The Grace of God at 10:24 AM on February 2, 2006

Canada is always open, at least to people in reasonable health who speak english or french and have at least minimal skills to support themselves.

Since there aren't many possible reasons for losing one's citizenship, I assume the reason was "lying during the immigration process". I would suggest trying Canada, and telling the truth this time.
posted by jellicle at 10:30 AM on February 2, 2006

What about Indonesia? (Or if angling for China, Hong Kong.)
posted by nathan_teske at 10:53 AM on February 2, 2006

Have they considered the UAE?
posted by contessa at 10:57 AM on February 2, 2006

I think failing a CIA check would rule out Canada - I certainly had to provide fingerprints to them to get my Canadian residence.
posted by jamesonandwater at 11:21 AM on February 2, 2006

I'd also suggest Canada, though I supppose it all depends on why they are being expelled.
posted by chunking express at 11:29 AM on February 2, 2006

There isn't any CIA check, AFAIK. There's an FBI check looking for crimes committed in the US, and similar police checks in the country of origin.

If the formal reason that his citizenship was revoked is relatively "innocent," he might have decent odds with any other OECD country. That is, if he didn't admit to a petty-theft or other nonserious crime as a kid because he didn't think that counted, or if he didn't admit to an overstay in 1984 that he didn't know he'd committed, of if he was a nominal member of some Unsavory Group as a kid and didn't own up to it because he didn't know it was on the list of Unsavory Groups or that they cared about what you did when you were eleven. In a case like that, Canada might be a good bet but he should be prepared to have to explain his US situation pretty well.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:33 AM on February 2, 2006

How does one lose citizenship? I always thought it was irrevokable after you get it, unless you try to take down the government with guns or something.
posted by rxrfrx at 12:02 PM on February 2, 2006

Sweden or another Nordic country?

I know the Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen was taken into Sweden, and they can be generous.

Switzerland is a good idea too.

Brasil might be another idea. Actually, a lot of leftist governments in Latin America might love to run up against the US on something like that.
posted by anjamu at 12:49 PM on February 2, 2006

Yes, once you get citizenship, you can't get that revoked. Perhaps you mean that he lost his permanent resident alien status?
posted by thewittyname at 12:52 PM on February 2, 2006

It's hard, but not impossible. You can lose citizenship if you willingly join a hostile military force or commit an act of treason. You have to be convicted of treason in a U.S. Court, though, AFAIK. There are also various voluntary ways to relinquish it.

More information at Wikipedia and the US State Dept.
posted by selfnoise at 12:58 PM on February 2, 2006

if this is who I think it is, can't his older daughters take the younger ones in? Obviously they'd like to be with mom & dad but it's hard to imagine this is a good move for them; in particular I'd be concerned about their citizenship status. While I certainly wouldn't blame them for not being high on being US citizens under the current administration it may offer them better future opportunities than many traditionalist muslim countries would...
posted by phearlez at 1:14 PM on February 2, 2006

ROU_Xenophobe is pretty much correct on this. There's an FBI check that Canada will probably cross list, but that'll only show crimes he commited IN the states. The fact he has a file can probably be explained away as long as ALL he did last time was tell a little white lie to get into the USA.

Mind you, it's much safer (speaking in a game theoritical approach to National Security) for no-one to take this guy, as 'something' is wrong with his past. So keep that in mind and remember he's going to have to jump through hoops, and while the US MAY be screwing him that does not equate to any other nation having to be nice to him.
posted by tiamat at 1:22 PM on February 2, 2006

How does one lose citizenship?

Natural-born US citizens have a tough time losing it, even when they want to, but it can be done. It can even be done against your will, but not by ordinary means (taking high elective office in a foreign country, fighting in someone else's army against the US, etc).

Naturalized US citizens can also lose their citizenship if it was fraudulently or illegitimately obtained, most commonly if they fibbed during the immigration process.

But revoking citizenship is pretty hardcore. BTGoG, are you sure that he's a US citizen and not just a permanent resident?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:38 PM on February 2, 2006

This seems strange to me. I am not sure I would want to help him if he actualy has a terrorist related past (and/or present). And I can't think of any other reason they would deport a palestinian man these days. But he has a family that probably do not know any better, and now will probably grow up hearing a lot more anti-american rhetoric and be potential recruits themselves. I guess he is a friend of yours so I hope you know what you are doing. Anyway the best website for people looking to move to a new country is escape artist. He can find a lot of information about the policies and opportunities of different countries and get contact information there.
posted by blueyellow at 3:08 PM on February 2, 2006

Also, I wouldn't bother with which countries would accept them as refugees, to make an anti-american statement. Just to try to find a country that would accept them for what they can offer the country. If he is a prof in a useful field that might be a powerful incentive.

I agree that going back to Palestine doesn't seem like a good idea, especially now that Hamas (his affiliation?) is deciding to separate classrooms into males and females as one of their first steps of improving palestinian society.
posted by blueyellow at 3:28 PM on February 2, 2006

crabintheocean: you're missing part of the original question. There are plenty of ways not to be allowed to immigrate, especially if you're a Muslim Arab. But, having been granted citizenship, there are only a couple of ways to lose it. Of those, lying to Immigration seems by far the most likely.

I reiterate Canada. It isn't going to be easy or fast, but Canada has some sympathy for people screwed by U.S. immigration, and it is a, you know, Western democracy.
posted by jellicle at 4:09 PM on February 2, 2006

You forgot Poland.
posted by greatgefilte at 4:46 PM on February 2, 2006

jellicle. I was responding to your tone, and your assumption that things with the US Govt are simple enough that "if you're straight with them, they'll be straight with you", I wasn't responding to the facts you gave, I'm pretty familiar with them.

My original post has been deleted anyway.
posted by crabintheocean at 5:42 PM on February 2, 2006

Malaysia seems to be a good fit - it's a moderate Muslim country, which should satisfy the whole family. There's also Singapore, which is secular but has a good Muslim community if that's important to them.
posted by divabat at 7:36 PM on February 2, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks, guys. Will bring a buncha this up with the lawyer and will be flagging best answers according to his responses.

He's not affiliated with ANYTHING. He is politically more like a left-wing Metafilter reader than not, although quite a devout Muslim. (that in itself is scary to the powers that be I think.) He got railroaded. I've got lots of details all for the price of an email to the address in my profile. :)
posted by By The Grace of God at 11:59 PM on February 2, 2006

Response by poster: blueyellow, remember the McCarthy era. People get painted with a brush for political reasons, and the word that they get tagged with 'communist,' 'terrorist' whatever becomes SO loaded in the zeitgeist of the day that even people who ordinarily would help get scared off. I just can't see myself becoming one of those people, so I'll help.

Anyway, he's fought this for three years and has decided to leave voluntarily. People started threatening his Western, suburban, Harry Potter reading, hijab wearing children. I want those girls to have the best start in life possible.
posted by By The Grace of God at 12:17 AM on February 3, 2006

Response by poster: and escape artist looks great, thanks for the link.
posted by By The Grace of God at 12:18 AM on February 3, 2006

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