6,000 WORLD YOUTH DAY APPLICANTS DENIED VISAS
TORONTO, July 9, 2002 (LSN.ca) - The Canadian government
is refusing entry visas to 6,000 young people hoping to attend World Youth Day
with Pope John Paul II starting July 23. The number reportedly represents a 25%
rejection rate among international visa applicants hoping to be here for the
pope's visit. The rejections primarily affect students and other youth from the
Dominican Republic, Haiti, Colombia, Uganda and Sudan.
"The message is the Canadian government is not
welcoming youth to World Youth Day," says Joe Byrne, Prince Edward Island
regional coordinator. But Immigration Department officials say the government
cannot grant special treatment to any applicant, out of concern that bogus
applicants may use WYD to get into Canada and then disappear into the community.
Media are reporting that 200,000 delegates from 165
countries are registered for World Youth Day, "far less" than the
750,000 "originally anticipated."