Halifax family could be deported to country they’ve never visited
Federal Court of Canada hears unusual refugee case
By Richard Cuthbertson, CBC News Posted: Sep 10, 2014 5:28 PM AT Last Updated: Sep 10, 2014 5:28 PM AT
A family living in Halifax is fighting to stay in Canada as refugees. They say they fear they will be deported to Iran, a country they’ve never visited. (CBC)
A family living in Halifax is facing deportation after their refugee claim was rejected earlier this year — but in an unusual twist, they could be sent to a country they’ve never even visited.
Abbas Gholami, his wife Fatemeh Naserian Mochadam, and their five children arrived in Canada a couple of years ago. All family members were born and lived in Kuwait. However, due to family ties they are citizens of Iran.
They say they left Kuwait after years of threatening phone calls from two of Mochadam’s cousins, according to documents filed in the Federal Court of Canada. Mochadam is of Arab descent and says her 1995 marriage to her husband, who is Persian, was viewed as shameful by some relatives who threatened to kill them.
But in February, an Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada tribunal rejected the family’s refugee claim. The Gholamis now face removal from Canada — not to Kuwait, but to Iran, where none of them have lived or visited.
The family is fighting the tribunal’s decision. At a Federal Court hearing in Halifax on Wednesday, the Gholamis’ lawyer argued the family could face persecution if they are sent to Iran.
Scott McGirr says the family identifies as Arab and can’t even speak Farsi, the language of Iran. Arabs, he argues, are discriminated against in Iran.
“Arabs in Iran run a very real risk of persecution,” McGirr told the court.
A federal government lawyer acknowledged this is a “bit of an unusual case,” but argued Wednesday the court should uphold the tribunal’s finding that the Gholamis aren’t refugees.
Government lawyer Patricia MacPhee questioned the veracity of claims by the Gholamis that they faced years of harassment from Mochadam’s cousins. She says the tribunal did not believe the threatening phone calls would have lasted nearly two decades.
She notes that while the family may consider itself Arab, they are also Shia Muslims, the dominant religion in Iran. There is no evidence, MacPhee says, the family would face persecution.
SAM PAZZANO, QMI AGENCY
Last Updated: 7:14 AM ET
BRAMPTON, Ont. — The mother of a Toronto-area woman whose alleged unruly behaviour forced a Cuba-bound Sunwing flight back to Toronto is in jail and facing her seventh deportation from Canada, QMI Agency has learned.
Irena Ratmanski, 56, was denied bail Wednesday by Justice of the Peace Ralph Cotter.
Ratmanski was charged in July with four Immigration and Refugee Protection Act offences, including re-entering the country unlawfully, failing to advise officers of previous deportations and some misrepresentations, including denying having a daughter, Lilia Ratmanski, 25, and failing to reveal other aliases.
Five weeks ago, Irena Ratmanski sat in a courtroom and then fled from media scrutiny before her daughter Lilia, of Whitby, Ont., and her friend, Milana Muzikante,26, of Maple, Ont., were freed on bail. They were accused of making threats, endangering the safety of an aircraft and mischief after allegedly drinking and smoking in the aircraft bathroom on the Aug. 27 flight to Cuba.
“(Irena Ratmanski) has a history of being removed … and finding her way back in despite not being authorized to do so,” said Cotter in rejecting Ratmanski’s bail application.
“She is making a mockery of the integrity of our borders. She knows the chances of being deported again are very high,” A. M. Coke, an agent for the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, told court in opposing Ratmanski’s release.
“She has nothing to lose by fleeing.”
When I saw the picture of a weeping Jamila Bibi in the Saskatoon Star PhoenixTuesday, I thought of only one thing, and that is, how Canada looks from the air.
I’ve flown across this country probably more than the average bear, most recently this summer from Prince George, B.C., to Moncton, N.B., when the shooting of four Mounties overtook the trial I was covering.
Lucky me, in the course of doing my job, I’ve seen Canada in all four seasons from the air. The only constant is how marvelously empty the country is, most of it.
Yet Canada couldn’t wait to deport Ms. Bibi, an unsophisticated woman from a village in Pakistan, Tuesday morning from the airport in Saskatoon. She and her friend and ally, Sahana Yeasmin, at whose restaurant Ms. Bibi had been working, said a tearful goodbye.
Ms. Bibi had been faithfully checking in weekly for the past 22 months, just as she had been ordered to do, and it was at one of these recent check-ins that authorities abruptly decided to remove her, despite a United Nations order to put the proceeding on hold until it was properly investigated.
Her lawyer, Bashir Khan of Winnipeg, says she doesn’t know when she was born, but guesses she’s probably in her early 60s. He is enraged by her treatment, and so am I.
Ms. Bibi was sent back to a country where generally, women and girls are treated appallingly, where as the most recent report of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women notes, child and forced marriage, “karo-kari” (a local term that covers a wide variety of allegedly immoral female behaviour and which empowers family members to commit an honour killing), stove-burning and acid throwing, marriage to the Koran, and polygamy all persist.
Published Wednesday, September 10, 2014 11:06AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, September 10, 2014 2:42PM EDT
OTTAWA — An Ottawa man says he will appeal after losing a round in his court battle for Canadian citizenship.
Deepan Budlakoti was suddenly told by federal officials four years ago that he is not a citizen — even though he was born in Canada and had been issued a birth certificate and a Canadian passport.
The government argues Budlakoti did not automatically become a Canadian at birth in October 1989, as his parents were employed by a foreign diplomat, the Indian high commissioner.
Budlakoti, 24, was ordered out of Canada three years ago due to drug and firearms convictions. He unsuccessfully tried to challenge the order in court.
In December 2012 he completed his sentence and was released into custody of the Canada Border Services Agency. Continue reading
LASALLE – Hilary Fuh-Cham’s father was known as a “sub-chief” in his native village of Cameroon, a tiny place about 20 km outside the town of Bamenda, in the eastern part of the country.
But when his father died, his world turned upside down, triggering a series of events that left him, his wife and three children in Canada fighting off deportation.
“The only time I said that I could not continue was when they told me my wife and my daughter would have to be circumcised,” he told Global News.
Fuh-Cham converted to Roman Catholicism when he was still quite young, but his father remained wed to indigenous beliefs.
When Fuh-Cham had to take up the role of sub-chief after his father’s death, it meant the women in his family had to undergo circumcisions and other practices they staunchly opposed, he said.
In December 2007, they arrived in Canada with their daughter in an attempt to gain refugee status.
“My main fear was losing my life,” said Yvette Fuh-Cham.
“I remember seeing my sister-in-law circumcised, the pain she had to go through. Just believing that’s going to be done to you, you have to leave, you have to hide.”
Their cause is being taken up by the Saint Jean Brebeuf parish in Lasalle.
“To my mind it’s like persecuted by the government, the federal government,” said Father Gerry Martineau, the pastor of the church.
“A lot of people will be extremely sad, his presence is felt. He’s very integrated into our community.”
The Fuh-Chams say they’ve attempted on three occasions to obtain the right to stay in the country either on refugee or humanitarian grounds, but have yet to get a result that keeps them in Canada – even though two of their children were born in Canada and have never been to Cameroon.
They say they have a little more than a month before they’ll be deported.
© Shaw Media, 2014
MONTREAL – A Dutch dentist arrested this week in New Brunswick and wanted in France for allegedly mutilating patients through botched procedures will remain detained pending his removal from Canada.
Jacobus Marinus van Nierop had a detention review before the Immigration and Refugee Board Friday via teleconference.
The Canada Border Services Agency says it is making plans to return van Nierop to his native Holland, but that could change if French authorities demand he be returned to that country to face criminal charges.
In a strange twist, van Nierop told the hearing he thought he was being held in connection with the murder of his wife in the Netherlands in 2006.
© The Canadian Press, 2014
Citizenship and Immigration Canada has stayed Sheila Sedinger Ayala’s removal order.
“It feels amazing,” Sedinger Ayala told CBC news. “Now I can concentrate on celebrating my daughter’s birthday which is this Saturday, the day I was going to be deported.”
Sedinger Ayala, 27, was initially ordered to be deported back to Mexico after her refugee claim sponsor — her husband — was convicted of a criminal offence.
Her two Canadian-born children would have stayed behind in Canada if the deportation went ahead.
The decision comes one day after an immigrant rights group hosted a news conference for Sedinger Ayala on Sunday.
With her fiancé by her side, Sedinger Ayala sobbed while she explained what had happened to her and why she should be granted temporary residency to allow her to stay in Canada while she sorts out her affairs.
Sedinger Ayala said she moved to Montreal from Mexico City in 2005, fleeing from a violent ex-boyfriend.
She had one child within a year of arriving in Canada — a product of gang rape while in Mexico, said Sedinger Ayala’s lawyer Angela Potvin.
She later met and married a man in Montreal with whom she had another child. She said he sponsored her bid for permanent residency and in 2008, the federal and provincial governments accepted her sponsorship application.
However, Potvin said the sponsor was found guilty of physical assault during the course of Sedinger Ayala’s sponsorship application, which in turn made him ineligible to sponsor her. She said the conviction cancelled her permanent residency bid.
Ottawa says caregiver is inadmissible because she briefly worked under the table while waiting for an open work permit.
A Filipino nanny is facing deportation from Canada after she was found guilty of “misrepresentation” because she briefly worked under the table while waiting for an open work permit amid an immigration backlog.
Canada Border Services Agency has refused to defer Lilia Ordinario Joaquin’s removal on Friday. Her lawyer filed an emergency application Tuesday asking the federal court to review the CBSA decision and stop the deportation.
“I’d say ‘the fix was in’ for Lilia. She fulfilled all the requirements of the live-in caregiver program but was caught by an extraordinarily long period of delay in receiving her open work permit from the government,” said the woman’s lawyer, Jennifer Stone, of the Neighbourhood Legal Services. Continue reading
Published Sunday, July 27, 2014 6:28PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, July 27, 2014 6:57PM EDT
It’s a desperate plea to Immigration Canada from a woman dying of ALS and her son.
Julia Hidalgo-Aguilera, 78, has lost most of the use of her legs and says her arms are growing weaker.
Her son Hector Reyes-Hidalgo came from Chile four years ago to care for her.
He’s her only family member in Canada and her primary caregiver, but he is set to be deported back to his home country Tuesday.
They’re making an appeal on compassionate grounds to delay his deportation next week.
Even the most basic tasks are almost impossible for Hidalgo-Aguilera — she has difficulty swallowing, moving and sometimes breathing.
Immigration Canada accepted a request for Hidalgo-Aguilera to sponsor her son’s immigration, but Reyes-Hidalgo was rejected in his bid to obtain a Quebec Selection Certificate, which he needs if he wants to live in Quebec.
So next week, he faces deportation.
“I’m thinking of my mother more than of me. I’m hoping for a solution soon,” he said.
Reyes-Hidalgo can contest Immigration Quebec’s decision in October, but without a stay of deportation from Immigration Canada, he won’t have a chance to plead his case.
That could prove to be devastating for his mother physically, emotionally and financially.
“I help pay the rent and pay a lot of things to maintain the house,” he said.
Letters of support have been written by doctors and politicians, including the leader of the official opposition Thomas Mulcair.