An Afghan translator's efforts to emigrate to Canada


Esmatullah Meherzada is an Afghan man who passed all the security checks the Canadian forces put him through to allow him to work with our soldiers in Kandahar, only to fail the one that could get him to a new life in Canada.

Rejected Afghan worker with the KPRT, Esmatullah Meherzada

During Canada's involvement in Afghanistan, scores of local Afghans were part of the military mission ... working as interpreters and cultural liaisons for the troops, diplomats and advisors. When their jobs were done, many of those locals feared reprisals from the Taliban. So Citizenship and Immigration Canada created a special program to give Afghans who could prove their lives were now at risk - a chance at a new life here. The program was started in 2009 and stopped accepting applications in 2011.

Esmatullah Meherzada was one of the hundreds of Afghans eligible to apply. He worked with the Canadian-led Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team -- or KPRT. And his application to come to Canada under the special immigration program was supported by his Canadian supervisors - both military and civilian.

But last August, Esmatullah Meherzada received word that his application had been rejected. Though he had been working with Canadian personnel for more than a year, immigration officials said they weren't convinced he was trustworthy. What's more, they thought it was possible he might even be an insurgent.

Esmatullah Meherzada joined us from Kandahar.

We made multiple attempts to speak with someone at Citizenship and Immigration Canada - which you'll also hear referred to as CIC. Our requests for interviews were turned down ... as was our request to speak with someone from the Department of Defence.

International Security Consultant, Alan Bell

So for some more perspective on the security questions raised by Esmatullah Meherzada's case, we were joined by Alan Bell. He's a veteran of the British Special forces, and now heads Globe Risk International, a Toronto-based security consulting company. Alan Bell has worked in Afghanistan on contract for the Canadian government and he's in Toronto.

Veterans Transition Network, Tim Laidler

Tim Laidler served as a corporal with the Canadian Armed Forces in Kandahar in 2008 and he pushed for the creation of the special immigration program we've been talking about. Tim Laidler is now the Executive Director of the Veterans Transition Network and he was in Vancouver.

* We apologize for the construction sounds in the background.

This segment was produced by The Current's Naheed Mustafa and Sujata Berry.

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Other segments from today's show:

Sketching Guantanamo: Janet Hamlin

Ottawa's biggest racial profiling study to date in Canada

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