Tuesday, July 25, 2006

On the one hand

My interest was piqued by a post at The 64 Square Jungle about the plight of NM Alexander Stamnov. Chessdad64 reports:
National Master Alexander Stamnov, a virtual fixture on the Chicago area chess scene, has been confined for over three months at a detention facility in El Paso, Texas on immigration violations... Alex ... has been one of the most active tournament players in Illinois and the country -- 323 events since 1998, he has been a mainstay at local chess clubs and the North Avenue Chess Pavilion over the years.

Tomorrow evening, many members of the Illinois chess community will join together for a benefit that will include GM Simuls and a buffet dinner, with the proceeds going to assist Alex.... Those supporting this cause include GM Dmitry Gurevich, GM Nikola Mitkov, GM Vladimir Georgiev, IM Jan van de Mortel, chess organizer Zack Fishman, and many others as well.
My initial thoughts were along these lines -- Is he being held improperly? If not (i.e., if he illegally entered the country or overstayed his visa), why all the concern?

An anonymous commenter offered the following:
Stamnov entered the country legally. He should have applied for political asylum within one year; he did not. Were he to return to (former Yugoslav) Macedonia, it would not be good for his health.
One side of my brain says, "Hey, the rules are the rules", while the other says, "Surely a refugee deserves a political asylum hearing even if he's 7 years late in asking for it." What do you think?

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