US Army deserter, Robin Long, fled to Canada in 2005 to avoid serving in Iraq. Yesterday, Long was deported back to the US, the first time a resister to the US war effort in Iraq has been sent home by Canadian authorities. Long claims that he fled to avoid participation in an "illegal war of aggression in Iraq."
The judge who heard his case this week, ruled that Long couldn't provide clear evidence he would suffer irreparable harm if he was sent back to the United States. Though Long was sent home, in another deportation case last week the Federal Court blocked the deportation of National Guard Sgt. Corey Glass, 25, who also refused redeployment to Iraq, while it decides whether to hear his case.
Both Long and Glass are part of a group of about 200 American deserters thought to have crossed the northern border to avoid service in Iraq. To this point, Canadian immigration officials and courts have refused to grant them refugee status, with Prime Minister Harper's consent; he's ignored a nonbinding House of Commons motion that would allow the deserters to stay.
To see how this case compares to Vietnam, and the opposition to granting refugee status,
Opponents of granting refugee status to deserters use the Vietnam War as an example, saying that unlike that war, the US currently doesn't have a military draft and deserters are instead volunteers who know the potential risks.
During the Vietnam War, about 90,000 Americans successfully won sanctuary in Canada, most of them there to avoid the military draft. Though some still remain in places like Nelson, British Columbia, the place Long fled to, a majority of the deserters went home after the United States granted amnesty in 1977.
Is the difference between volunteer service and draft, the tipping point in the debate? Is Canada right to send the deserters home?