Thursday, February 4, 2010

"Born in Japan, but ordered out

"TOKYO -- Fida Khan, a gangly 14-year-old, told the court that immigration authorities should not deport him and his family merely because his foreign-born parents lacked proper visas when they came to Japan more than 20 years ago.

"During the past two decades, his Pakistani father and Filipino mother have held steady jobs, raised children, paid taxes and have never been in trouble with the law.

""I have the right to do my best to become a person who can contribute to this society," Fida told a Tokyo district court in Japanese, the only language he speaks.

"But the court ruled last year that Fida has no right to stay in the country where he was born. Unless a higher court or the Minister of Justice intervenes, a deportation order will soon split the Khan family, sending the father, Waqar Hassan Khan, back to Pakistan, while dispatching Fida and his sister Fatima, 7, to the Philippines with their mother, Jennette.

"Aggressive enforcement of Japanese immigration laws has increased in recent years as the country's economy has floundered and the need for cheap foreign labor has fallen.

"Nationality in Japan is based on blood and parentage, not place of birth. This island nation was closed to the outside world until the 1850s, when U.S. warships forced it to open up to trade. Wariness of foreigners remains a potent political force, one that politicians dare not ignore, especially when the economy is weak.

"As a result, the number of illegal immigrants has been slashed, often by deportation, from 300,000 in 1995 to just 130,000, a minuscule number in comparison to other rich countries. The United States, whose population is 2 1/2 times that of Japan's, has about 90 times as many illegal immigrants (11.6 million). (...)"

By Blaine Harden, The Washington Post (1/17/2010), Link to article (last visited 2/4/2010)

No comments: