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Family's Deportation Hearing Left Undecided

More than 100 people show up in court to support Chaudhry family

by Ben Sichel

Chaudhry Roouf Ahmad talks to reporters outside his family's deportation hearing on February 16th while his son, Muhammad, looks on. (Photo: Tom MacDonald)
Chaudhry Roouf Ahmad talks to reporters outside his family's deportation hearing on February 16th while his son, Muhammad, looks on. (Photo: Tom MacDonald)
Fakhira Chaudhry and her two youngest children wait with community supporters as her husband speaks to the media. (Photo: Tom MacDonald)
Fakhira Chaudhry and her two youngest children wait with community supporters as her husband speaks to the media. (Photo: Tom MacDonald)

HALIFAX – A local family of five facing deportation to Pakistan will have to wait a little bit longer to learn its fate.

Fakhira Chaudhry and Chaudhry Roouf Ahmad listened from the front row of a Federal Court of Appeal packed with supporters to arguments on whether they and their three children would be allowed to stay in Canada, but at the end of the 3-hour hearing Justice Robert Barnes reserved judgment in order to further examine evidence.

The family’s application to stay in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds (H&C) was rejected in June of 2010. But their removal from the country, scheduled for August, was averted when the federal government declared a moratorium on deportations to Pakistan due to calamitous flooding.

The Chaudhrys are appealing the June ruling on the premise that the immigration officer who handled their case failed to take into account the best interests of their children, none of whom have ever been to Pakistan.

Defense lawyers John O’Neill and Lee Cohen argued that the case the family presented to the federal Department of Citizenship and Immigration – which included 650 pages of supporting material, including hundreds of letters of support from various individuals and organizations in the community – was dealt with in one business day, scarcely enough time to give due consideration to the applicants’ arguments.

Since the nature of a deportation hearing is a “winner-take-all,” said O’Neill, the decision maker must “fully review, not simply scan, all the materials” presented.

Crown prosecutor Monica Chan countered that though the Chaudhrys would certainly face hardship if they were forced to return to Pakistan, it was not clear that they would face “unusual or disproportionate hardship.”

Chan also argued that the Chaudhrys’ application had not included enough evidence to support their claim that their two daughters, aged 9 and 3, would face particular difficulties in Pakistan when compared to their lives in Canada.

“There are no country reports, no details of how the interests of the children are going to be compromised – only very general statements,” Chan said.

Outside the courtroom, supporters of the family who could not get seats in the courtroom milled about, some taking care of the Chaudhrys’ children while their parents sat in court. In total more than 100 people attended the hearing.

Evidently pleased with the show of support from the community, Chaudry Ahmad said numbers of people in the courtroom would have been even higher if not for -25 degree weather and the fact the hearing took place on a workday.

“In churches, in malls, thousands of people support us,” Chaudhry said.

Manzoor Ahmad, a friend of the family, noted the hardships the family faced from the protracted refugee process. “He’s been fighting more than seven years,” said Ahmad. “Every day he’s not sleeping well because of immigration stuff.”

“Everyone knows the situation in Pakistan,” Mr. Chaudhry said. “I look [to] my children’s future…This is my children’s home, my children’s country.”

“Media, you know more than me which countries have many problems,” he added, explaining why he continues to fight his family's deportation.

The Chaudhrys’ oldest daughter, Rukhna Roouf, was born in the United States and moved to Canada at the age of two.

“All my friends are here. I like the schools here,” she said. “Pakistan has bombs and stuff.”


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544 words

Commentaires

It was interesting to see the

It was interesting to see the Chaudhry's defence lawyer "switch gears" so to speak when it became obvious that the appeal judge was not convinced by his claim that the previous judge had not spent enough time reviewing the case.

He had a backup card: that many of the letters of support that had been submitted as proof of entrenchment in the local community were in fact "form letters", meaning that they were the same personalized letter that was simply signed by mulitple different people.

He argued that had the previous judge taken the time to fully review the case, that she would have explicitly pointed to these form letters and cited them as evidence that the 243 letters of support for the Chaudhry's addressed to her were worthy of discreditation.

You could tell that the lawyer was pulling his plan B punch, and by the end of the trial he was noticeably exhausted of ideas on how to proceed.

canadian-immigration-face.jpg

Why are they being deported?

 

 

I would expect the writer to present both sides of the story, at least, tell us the Government of Canada's position. Otherwise, the story is incomplete.

Why are they being deported? Why has their refugee claim been rejected? The government must have had to make a case. 

Immigration stories are very complex and not always what they appear to be. It's easy to demonize either the government or the claimant. It's never all black or white. The media is rarely subtle in its analysis of immigration and refugee cases. I would hope that we could find a more sophisticated piece of journalism here. 

 

 

 

Thanks

Thanks for your comments. The links in the story should give you a bit more background info on the case. As well, here is a general link on the refugee process from the government's perspective:

http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/refugees/inside/apply-who.asp

As I understand it, this case (like many refugee claims) are rejected because the claimants are unable to provide what the crown regards as sufficient evidence that they will face persecution in their countries of origin.

If you aren't already, please consider becoming a sustainer of the Media Co-op, so we can commission more in-depth pieces on important topics like this one. Currently nearly all stories, including this one, are written and researched by volunteers.

It should also be noted that

It should also be noted that this was only an appeal court, and so the crown prosecutor and defence lawyers were not tackling the issue of whether or not this family should be deported; they were tackling the issue of whether or not the previous judge had come to a sound decision when she ordered them to be deported.

For more info on the case from the Chaudhry's perspective, check out:

http://chaudhrysolidarity.wordpress.com/

 

I am a bit confused as to why

I am a bit confused as to why you would say this article did not cover the Government of Canada's position when Immigration's counsel is quoted in the article?

Regardless, the media coop's mandate as I understand it is to focus on grassroots and marginalized voices. I think your comment makes the assumption that the government and the claimants' perspectives are given equal weight in the immigration process, when in fact it is incredibly disempowering and dehumanizing for claimants. To say that immigration decisions are "complex" without recognition of this fundamental power imbalance is very problematic.

I think it is entirely appropriate that the media coop would focus on telling this family's story. Thank you Media Coop.

 

 

 

 

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