Non-status Nigerian woman stays in Canada!

PML, Domingo, Diciembre 22, 2002 - 09:30


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!

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 works.

---- see backgrounder below ----


Immigration Canada Threatens to Ignore Court Order: Deport Mom to Nigeria 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 gang 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):(416) 348-0001

Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
517 College Street, Suite 234 Toronto, Ontario M5G 4A2

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