15 December, 2019

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WikiLeaks: Sri Lankans Represent The Fourth Most Frequently Offloaded Nationality On U.S.-Bound Flights

By Colombo Telegraph-

“Despite the conclusion of formal hostilities, the lengthy conflict has left lingering instability. Severe lags in socioeconomic development persist, particularly in the north and east of the country. Throughout the country, economic conditions are relatively poor, with high inflation and weak government spending on social services.  Large numbers of Sri Lankans traditionally migrate for employment to the Middle East, Europe, East Asia, and North America, through both legal and illegal means. Early indications are that the global economic slowdown has significantly impacted Sri Lankans working both domestically and abroad.” the US Embassy Colombo informed Washington.

The Colombo Telegraph found the related cable from WikiLeaks database, which details the background of Visa Frauds. The cable is signed by the Ambassador Patricia Butenis on November 18, 2009.

Ambassador Butenis wrote “The consular section sees medium to high levels of fraud from all three major ethnic groups in Sri Lanka: Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim. Many Muslims speak the Tamil language but do not identify with ethnic Tamils and are considered a separate ethnic group. Despite the country’s relatively small population and lack of direct flights to the U.S., Sri Lankans represent the fourth most frequently offloaded nationality on U.S.-bound flights, according to 2008 U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) statistics.”

“The largest Sri Lankan diaspora community is in Toronto, Canada, where over 250,000 people of Sri Lankan origin (primarily ethnic Tamils) live. Severe restrictions imposed by the Canadian government on Sri Lankan visitor travel have resulted in many mala fide travelers applying at Embassy Colombo hoping to reach Canada over the land border. Within the U.S., preferred destinations for both legal and illegal immigrants are New York and California. Human smugglers charge as much as $40,000 a person for passage from Sri Lanka to North America.” she further wrote.

Below we give the relevant part of the confidential cable;

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 09 COLOMBO 001045 SIPDIS DEPT FOR CA/FPP; DEPT ALSO PASS TO KCC; DHS FOR CIS/FDNS; ADDRESSEE POSTS FOR FRAUD PREVENTION MANAGERS; BANGKOK FOR RCO WILL LAIDLAW E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: KFRD[Fraud Prevention Programs], CVIS[Visas], CPAS[Passport and Citizenship], CMGT [Consular Administration and Management], ASEC[Security], CE [Sri Lanka]

SUBJECT: FRAUD SUMMARY – SRI LANKA —————————-

A. Country Conditions —————————-

¶1. Political insecurity and socioeconomic conditions put pressure on Sri Lankans of all ages and societal classes to migrate legally and illegally to the United States. In May 2009, the Sri Lankan government announced victory over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), an armed insurgent group, after more than 25 years of civil conflict. Despite the conclusion of formal hostilities, the lengthy conflict has left lingering instability. Severe lags in socioeconomic development persist, particularly in the north and east of the country. Throughout the country, economic conditions are relatively poor, with high inflation and weak government spending on social services. Large numbers of Sri Lankans traditionally migrate for employment to the Middle East, Europe, East Asia, and North America, through both legal and illegal means. Early indications are that the global economic slowdown has significantly impacted Sri Lankans working both domestically and abroad.

¶2. The consular section sees medium to high levels of fraud from all three major ethnic groups in Sri Lanka: Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim. Many Muslims speak the Tamil language but do not identify with ethnic Tamils and are considered a separate ethnic group. Despite the country’s relatively small population and lack of direct flights to the U.S., Sri Lankans represent the fourth most frequently offloaded nationality on U.S.-bound flights, according to 2008 U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) statistics.

¶3. The largest Sri Lankan diaspora community is in Toronto, Canada, where over 250,000 people of Sri Lankan origin (primarily ethnic Tamils) live. Severe restrictions imposed by the Canadian government on Sri Lankan visitor travel have resulted in many mala fide travelers applying at Embassy Colombo hoping to reach Canada over the land border. Within the U.S., preferred destinations for both legal and illegal immigrants are New York and California. Human smugglers charge as much as $40,000 a person for passage from Sri Lanka to North America.

BUTENIS

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