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(en) CANADA, TORONTO: Victory Against Immigration Canada!

From "Graeme Bacque" <gbacque@colosseum.com>
Date Sat, 21 Dec 2002 04:50:59 -0500 (EST)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

> From: ocap@tao.ca [
Though still awaiting written
confirmation, Dorothy Igharo, a non-status
Nigerian woman living in Canada for
the last 7 years has been informed by
Immigration Canada that she will be
allowed to remain in Canada and will
finally be granted landed status!

Dorothy and members of OCAP, the
Committee of Non-Status Algerians
(Montreal) and No One is Illegal
(Montreal) brought delegations to two
Immigration offices on December 10th
demanding that Dorothy be allowed to
remain in Canada.  The first stop was at
the Greater Toronto Enforcement
Centre (charged with administering
deportations and detention) where
although police were quickly
summoned, Dorothy and supporters continued to
shout down management demanding
that they stop her deportation.  The
delegation then proceeded to the
Ontario Regional Office of Immigration
where Dorothy forced their PR Hack to
hear her out demanding that he look
at her daughter's picture and explain
why it was legitimate for
Immigration Canada to tear her family
apart.  Eventually a meeting was
granted with Immigration PR rep
Rejean Coutlon in which Dorothy and
reps from the Non-Status Algerian
Women's Committee and OCAP continued
to press for answers.  Two supportive articles
regarding her case also appeared in
the Toronto Sun.

The day after our actions a Director
from the Enforcement Centre contacted
Dorothy's Immigration lawyer
informing her that Dorothy's Pre-Removal Risk
Assessment had been approved.  Fewer
than 5% of all such assessments are
won and it was particularly doubtful
that Dorothy would win her assessment
as this would require Immigration to
question their prior decision to deny
her refugee status.  As well, most of the
risk arguments she had made were
about the risk of female circumcision
her 2 year old daughter would face
if she accompanied her mom to Nigeria
and Immigration Canada by law will
not consider the risks faced by a
Canadian-born child who faces defacto
deportation with their non-status
parents.  Winning this assessment means
that Dorothy can not be deported and
forces Immigration Canada to grant
her landed status (barring any
unforseen complications).

This win is a tremendous relief to
Dorothy and we would like to thank all
those who expressed their solidarity by
coming to the action and writing
the Minister of Immigration.  However,
we are also very mindful of the
fact that this is an individual victory
against a system that is brutally
injust and maintains an underclass of
"disposable" non-status workers.
Just as Dorothy, a "good" Immigrant
who works and has a family, is being
granted status, Immigration Canada is
conducting sweeps across the city,
detaining and deporting non-status
people with criminal records.  At this
time in the U.S., close to 1000 muslim
men have just been detained in L.A.
and the European Union is considering
abandoning the whole concept of
permanent refugee status, forcing all
refugees to return to their home
countries once euro-colonial
governments have deemed them to be safe.
But every time angry non-status people and
their supporters storm Immigration
offices it makes it less and less
comfortable for them to carry on quietly
destroying peoples' lives and serves as
an example to all that direct action

---- see backgrounder below ----

December 8, 2002

Immigration Canada Threatens to
Ignore Court Order:  Deport Mom to
and force 2 year old into foster care

Dorothy Igharo, a failed Refugee
claimant who fled Nigeria 7 years ago,
is being threatened with deportation,
despite an order from the Family Court
giving her full custody of her two year
old daughter, Precious, and
forbidding the child from being
removed from Ontario as it would be
against her best interests.

In 1995 Dorothy claimed Refugee
status on the basis that she had been
raped and beaten in retribution for her
uncles political activity in
Nigeria.  Although the Immigration and
Refugee Board accepted her Doctors
evidence that she had been subjected to
severe physical trauma, her claim
was still rejected.

Unable to return to Nigeria, Dorothy
has made a life here and is trying to
gain status on Humanitarian and
Compassionate Grounds.  She has been
granted full custody of her 2 year old
daughter (who has no other family
in Canada) and an interim order from
the Family Court forbidding the child
from being removed from Ontario as
this would be against her best
interests depriving her of any possible
relationship or support from her
father and forcing her to face hardship
including the imminent possibility
of being subjected to female
circumcision in Nigeria.  Dorothy is a
victim of female circumcision and is very
strongly against the practice.

Despite this, and knowing that
Precious father cannot be found,
Deportation Officer J. Atkinson is
threatening to deport Dorothy, forcing
her daughter into foster care.  In fact,
Immigration Canada has issued an
internal memo to all Deportation
Officers telling them that they can
pursue deportation of any non-status
parent whose child has a non-removal
order from Canada.  This is another
bitter reminder of the Liberal
governments crackdown on
Immigrants and Refugees and its utter
disregard for their well-being.

The Liberal government talks about
re-unifying Immigrant families while
quietly tearing families apart.  OCAP is
putting the Minister of
Immigration on notice: We will do
whatever it takes to support Dorothys
struggle to gain full status in Canada.
As an anti-poverty organization we
cannot tolerate the exploitation and
expulsion of undocumented workers
living in Canada and are united with
groups internationally fighting under
the banner that No One is Illegal.

For more information contact:   Sarah
Vance (OCAP):  (416) 806-4983
                                Sheilagh OConnell
(Family Law Office):

                   Ontario Coalition Against
        517 College Street, Suite 234
Toronto, Ontario  M5G 4A2
             416-925-6939   ocap@tao.ca

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