CBSA deporting an innocent refugee

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Graphic by Fani Hsieh
Graphic by Fani Hsieh

There are quite a few issues within our social construct that we neglect to acknowledge, speak about or even probe.

One such topic is that of deportation and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

This lovely country deports over 10,000 people every year and a heavy portion of this group is sent to nations with absolutely horrific human rights record.

There were approximately 148,000 people deported between 2004 to June of this year.

More than 70 per cent of these were failed refugee claimants, as noted by the records prepared by the CBSA.

Due to privacy legislation, information regarding individual deportations is not released.

The rare case is when the media gives us the occasional anecdote which exposes the system which oftentimes mercilessly removes people from the country.

Within that 10,000, here is one very real, very true case.

Betty* came to Canada as a refugee from Eritrea a year and a half ago, fleeing the repression in her country.

She had a son here, who is recognized as a Canadian citizen.

Since she arrived, she filed for refugee status and just a few weeks ago, she was notified to provide proof that she is truly an Eritrean.

She is unable to do so after losing all her documentations during her escape from Eritrea.

In response, the CBSA notified her that they believe she is Ethiopian pretending to be Eritrean so she can reside here.

They told her to get her things together for they would be deporting her to Ethiopia in five days, though her one-year-old son could remain in the country.

Eritrea and Ethiopia are not even close to being the same country, so how does Ethiopia fit in?

Refugee fraud is a big dilemma and recently, quite a few Ethiopians claiming to be from elsewhere have made the system suspicious of everyone.

Because of these suspicions, a massive and false assumption was made.

Imagine if you were this 30-year-old mother with your one-year-old son living in Canada for more than a year.

Imagine being told you will be deported to a country you have never been to a day in your life.

Imagine how much would that hurt.

The day came and she went to the airport broken, emotional and with her son by her side.

She had one final card to play and that was to appeal to the officer to stay on humanitarian grounds.

This mother had been abused by men in the past and she was faced with the situation of exposing herself, demonstrating all the scars she obtained from the highly volatile political situation back in her country.

She cried, screamed, explained until the officer gave her until the beginning of December to get proof of her citizenship or for her child to get a passport.

Sound simple?

The National Post reported on the Eritrean Consulate in Canada being investigated by the Foreign Affairs Department on charges of blatant corruption.

Therefore, with such a sordid history record, it’s very unlikely she will be able to ascertain proof.

Imagine if you were this 30-year-old … living in Canada for more than a year. Imagine being told you will be deported to a country you have never been to a day in your life.

Secondly, her child couldn’t get a Canadian passport as the law, according to the Government of Canada website, stipulates that for the first child passport to be issued, the child has to be at least two years old.

Her child was one and a few months.

The Coordinator of the Committee to Aid Refugees, Richard Goldman, said it best, “This is because changes introduced in 2012 have led to a much-accelerated refugee system with many people having no right of appeal. Consequently, there are fewer checks and balances to ensure that people are not sent back to situations of abuse in such countries.”

With very little assistance being afforded to her here, it is truly heart wrenching to know that the inevitable seems bound to happen.

* Name has been changed for

privacy purposes


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