U.S. army deserter Chris Teske is expected to surrender to U.S. authorities at the Rossland border crossing today after losing a Federal Court appeal to stay in Canada.
"I'm completely shocked that this is happening," he said from his Castlegar home at a news conference held by supporters in Vancouver yesterday.
"I hope everything goes well when I cross the border tomorrow."
Speakers, including B.C. MPs Bill Siksay and Libby Davies, urged the Canadian government to grant Teske and seven other known U.S. deserters refugee status to remain in Canada.
Among them is Ryan Reed, 23, an infantryman who deserted and entered Canada by walking over the border near a Lyndon casino last August and has filed a refugee claim to stay in Canada, a process that typically takes a year or more.
His wife and 19-month-old son joined him later in Vancouver after filing their refugee claims at the border.
Reed, who said he joined the army at age 20 in Ohio rather than take an $8-an-hour factory job, is on welfare until he can get a work permit, a right available to any refugee claimant. "I'll take any job I can get," he said.
He was stationed in Texas before he went absent without leave to avoid being deployed to Iraq. He said he was worried about leaving his wife, who he said has a "history of self-destruction," because the army has refused to medically treat her.
It was Reed's second desertion, but the first time he came to Canada.
Supporters argue that Prime Minister Stephen Harper should reverse his refusal to grant amnesty to the 50 or so known deserters across Canada because they're deserting the Iraq war, which the U.S. entered into without UN permission.
U.S. President Barack Obama has promised to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq and redeploy them to Afghanistan and supporters said it's unlikely the U.S. would object to the amnesty.
Seattle-based Project Safe Haven -- which has a 10-page document called "How to Go AWOL in Canada" on its website -- yesterday called on Obama to grant immediate amnesty to all U.S. war resisters who have refused to serve in Iraq.
Cliff Cornell, who has been living on Gabriola Island, is also facing deportation.
community and political support for chris teske
From the Vancouver Province: