A man saying his name is Andrea Jerome Walker of the United States has been in Canadian custody ever since 2006. The man is in Permanent immigration limbo, despite providing both the Canadian and United States governments with a birthdate, city of birth and a full name. Both countries state that he is not that person, and their requests for help from other nations have not proven fruitful so far.
The Canada Border Servcies Agency (CBSA) cannot deport Walker because they don’t know who he is or what country he belongs to. Further, the Canadian government will not release him from detention – despite not having committed a crime worthy of the lengthy amount of jail time – until he can be deported.
One of the three grounds for holding someone in immigration detention, is not being able to establish the person concern’s identity. The other grounds are flight risk or danger to the public. The later two do not seem to be a factor in this case.
Walker has no known family, no one known to him that can vouch for him and has no interest in publicizing his case, denying requests for media interviews. He doesn’t seem to talk much anymore, after inconsistencies in his stories only made authorities more doubtful.
Canadian officials have tried going the investigative route, checking out other countries like Haiti, Nigeria, Guinea, Cameroon and the Ivory Coast for possible identifying information, but nothing came up.
Walker was initially arrested in the fall of 2006. He entered Canada via New York with and American passport in the spring of 2005. Despite being told he must leave the country nine days after his visit, he stayed in Toronto until one fateful day almost a year-and-a-half later he was found to have cocaine in his pocket by the Toronto police.
He plead guilty on the advice of his lawyer so he could return to the United States.
When Canadian border officials wanted to press him for information, nothing added up. Walker had a very strong accent that couldn’t quite be placed – determined to be African or Caribbean – and spoke French fluently. When United States officials visited Walker, they found inconsistencies in his stories and withdrew his passport. Since then, he’s pretty much stopped talking.
Fingerprints sent to the United States did find a match, for someone with an entirely different name who was arrested for drug possession in the early 90s in New York City. This person was originally born in Haiti.
While Walker himself admits he was indeed that very person, he said he didn’t even know where Haiti was, nor had he been ever been to Haiti. Haitian authorities have no idea who he is either.
A specialist from Nigeria interviewed Walker and was able to ascertain he was from any one of the central African countries, but those countries have not been helpful or forthcoming with information.
Canadian authorities fear releasing him would make the immigration system look like some kind of joke – essentially anyone could come into the country, be uncooperative and stay.
The story has hit newspapers and online media outlets in Delaware – Walker’s insisted city of birth – Haiti, Nigeria, the continent of Africa, Puerto Rico, Thailand, across Canada and in other American cities. It’s a topic on immigration and crime websites and discussion forums. The federal government’s Canada Border Services Agency released a page on their website Saturday, with a large photo of Walker, requesting assistance in identifying him. Tip phone lines and e-mail addresses have been set up, and yet no new information has come forward.
Many people end up overstaying their visas and eventually being deported, but this case is interesting because Walker’s uncooperativeness has the potential to keep him immigration detention – and in Canada – for a very long time.
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