‘American refugee’ leaves Oregon to claim asylum in Canada

March 9, 2017

By CBC News |

A 57-year-old man who has spent the majority of his life living in the United States is claiming asylum in Canada after he says his employment authorization card was not renewed this year in Oregon.

“There was a deportation order standing against me in the United States,” said Waji Danoun.

“The United States deemed me a stateless person because Lebanon — the country of my birth, does not have a record of my birth.”

Danoun said he arrived in the U.S. in 1978 on a falsified passport, but was able to legally work and stay in the country for 39 years.

“I was under immigration probation … I was given an employment authorization.… and was allowed to work and [had to] report periodically.”

But this year, Danoun said, his employment card was not renewed.

“I saw the writing on the wall. I figured I was on the list to be picked up by immigration, so I just left.”

The decision wasn’t easy. Danoun left behind a carpentry business and friends in Fall Creek, Ore.

“The night before I left, I saw my landlady working on her yard. I just wanted to talk to her and give her a hug and I couldn’t do it, because I just knew she was going to cry and I was going to cry. It was just very difficult to say goodbye.”

Craigslist ad leads to housing offer

Danoun said he crossed the Sumas border in Washington on Feb. 17 and arrived in Canada, where he was taken into police custody before being turned over to the Canada Border Services Agency.

He was released 12 days later and spent some time in a hotel before posting an ad on Craigslist to find housing.

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