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Canada could deport Nigerian mother and son

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By Abraham Adekunle

After 19 years, mother and son could be separated from their Canadian family.

After living for almost two decades in Canada, the government may deport Nigerian mother, Nike Okafor, and her 21-year-old son to Nigeria. This is due to immigration laws in the country. Thirty-nine-year-old Okafor emigrated to Canada as an asylum seeker in 2003. Being a Muslim in Northern Nigeria, she had had a child with a Christian and she says that she feared that the boy would be seized from her because of religious tensions in the region. She said that she fled to Canada for Security reasons and to make a better life for both her and her son.

But now, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) have sent her a deportation order in regards to her and her son. The two are to be deported 26 July 2022. This is despite her husband filing a spousal sponsorship application with the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) more than two years ago. When Okafor came to Canada, her refugee claim was denied, but through her lawyer, she appealed the judgement and tried to find a way to stay back while her life went on in the country.

There are many reasons people can be deported from Canada.

While her appeal was still ongoing, Okafor lived a normal life like any other Canadian resident. She went to school. She became a personal support worker. She even married a Canadian man and had two Canadian-born children. But Canadian immigration laws are about to come down very hard on her in separating her and her Nigerian-born son and the rest of her family. According to Legal Line Canada, the government of Canada has the legal right and power to deport people who are unlawfully staying in the country.

The implication of deportation is that anyone who is removed from Canada on a deportation order by the CBSA cannot return to the country except with the written permission of the Minister of immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. The Canadian government deports people for different reasons. Some people may be denied refugee status. Some foreign nationals may be deported for violating their visa by overstaying their authorized period of stay in Canada. Some others may be deported if they do not comply with the terms and conditions of their visit, or if they have been convicted of a criminal offence in Canada or another country. Permanent residents may be deported if they are deemed to be a security risk or if they lie on their immigration application.

Executive director for CCR calls Okafor’s situation very, very unjust.

“If I have to go back, it will end my life,” Okafor told the press. “I’ll be separated from my husband. I’ll be separated from my Canadian children. I don’t know how I can live. My whole life is here.” If Okafor is forced to leave Canada, she will be sent back to Nigeria where she says that she has no ties and her Nigerian-born son will have to leave the only country that he has ever known. Her two Canadian-born children will also have to bid their mother goodbye.

Despite that Okafor’s husband, Rotimi Odunaiya, had filed for spousal sponsorship for her with the IRCC more than 28 months ago, the CBSA has still issued a deportation order for her and her son. According to the Federal Government of Canada, the average processing time for spousal sponsorship is 15 months. This means that Okafor would have become a permanent resident if not for the delays. Janet Dench, the executive director of the Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR), calls this situation “very, very unjust.” She noted that while Okafor’s case involved both the CBSA and the IRCC, the former focuses on law enforcement such as deportation, while the latter focuses on vetting and facilitating new residents of Canada.

Family reunification is a pillar of our immigration system, says IRCC.

In a statement issued to the press, the IRCC said that Okafor and her son’s application for permanent residence is “in queue for review” and assured that it will be reviewed objectively. The department would not say specifically how long the wait will be and said the time frames for processing some applications may vary due to the distinctive nature of every case. The IRCC did not also explain how someone with a pending application could be issued a deportation order or whether the IRCC communicates with the CBSA to prevent this situation. “Family reunification is a fundamental pillar of our immigration system, and IRCC works to process applications for permanent residence expeditiously while conducting all verifications required under the law,” the statement said.


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