Church World Service subcontractor arrested in Canada

Church World Service sure is making the news these days, and must have had a busy press office over the weekend.   First, its subcontractor Virginia Council of Churches makes news right here in our county when it is forced to close its doors.   And,  then on Saturday the New York Times reported that the director of another of its subcontractors, Prime-Ecumenical Commitment to Refugees, is arrested in Canada for immigrant trafficking.  According to the Institute for Cultural Partnerships, “PRIME operates through funding from Church World Service.”

An American refugee aid worker accompanying Haitians seeking asylum in Canada was charged by Canadian authorities this week with immigrant trafficking.

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…..she said that her group had made 19 trips to the Canadian border in the last five months, taking immigrants, primarily Haitians, who had despaired of obtaining legal status in the United States and feared deportation.

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Ms. Hinshaw-Thomas said that during her first trip, on Aug. 22, a Canadian immigration officer warned her that she could be prosecuted for trafficking if she was making any profit from the refugee trips. She said she told the officer that she collected fees, about $250 per family, to defray travel expenses. Mr. Paradis, the Border Services Agency spokesman, confirmed the warnings. “If a person has been notified that this method of working is illegal and they continue, we’re going to take action,” he said.

Ms. Hinshaw-Thomas’ agency is in Lancaster, PA.   At the recent Refugee Resettlement Forum in Hagerstown we were informed that for some unexplained reason a Church World Service subcontractor was suspended in Lancaster.   The Russian Turks originally destined for Lancaster were brought to Hagerstown instead setting in motion the events that ended on Friday with the closing of the VCC office here.   Hum……any connection? 

Note:  If PRIME is no longer receiving federal funding through Church World Service and the U.S. State Department please let us know and we will report that information.

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