This Canadian Criminal’s Fight to Regain Citizenship May Set a Precedent For New Citizenship Laws

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Muna Mire, Vice Magazine,13 August 2014

Deepan Budlakoti has been living a nightmare for the last four years. Stripped of his status as a Canadian citizen, despite being born in Canada as the son of former Indian diplomats, he has a current charter challenge before federal court in Ottawa. His case is likely being closely watched by Immigration Minister Chris Alexander and the Conservatives to set a precedent, or at least the tone for the conversation on the controversial measures put forward in Bill C-24. Bill C-24, which passed at the end of June, is ironically also known as the “Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act.”

There are already at least two constitutional challenges to the new law, which has come under fire from critics because it grants the immigration minister a wide berth to strip Canadians of their citizenship. Depending on who you ask, Budlakoti was either stripped of his status because he committed a crime-—or because he never should have been issued papers in the first place.

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Deepan featured on the Daily GRRR!

HomeThe Daily GRRR!, 17 July 2014, The In/Security Edition

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“Welcome, I am your host Rachel Avery and you are listening to The Daily GRRR! In/Security Edition on 100.3fm, CKMS in Waterloo, Ontario, soundfm.ca on the web. Today is July 17, 2014.

We are broadcasting from the centre of the Haldimand Tract, the occupied Grand River Territory of the Six Nations (Haudenosaunee).

The Daily GRRR! is a project of the Grand River Media Collective; and is supported by the Community Radio Fund of Canada and CKMS.

Feature: A new interview with Deepan Budlakoti, talking about his case where despite holding only Canadian citizenship and having lived in the country his entire life, the Harper government is seeking to deport him. Deepan also discusses Bill C-24 and the reality of double punishment facing migrants in the criminal justice system. …”

UPDATE: Still Waiting!

Deepan and his committee and supporters are still waiting for the Federal Court to rule on his motion, heard on June 16th. If successful, the motion will force the Canadian government to admit that their actions violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and caused Deepan undue hardship. It would also force the government to recognize Deepan as a Canadian citizen.

The ruling is expected in the following month, possibly not until September. We’ll keep you posted!

Raffle for Original Art Work

IMG_2235The winning ticket was drawn on July 15, 2014. The winner has agreed to donate this original artwork by Nathalie Sheppard to a community centre in Ottawa.

Help Deepan in his struggle for justice by buying a raffle ticket for a chance to win an original work of art (4 x 3 feet) by Nathalie Sheppard.

Buy tickets, click here!

When a Criminal Past Becomes a Stateless Future

deepan-courtISSUU, Guidebook June 13th (pp 16-17) and Tyee.ca, 9 July 2014, by Abeer Yusuf

Born in Ottawa, Deepan Budlakoti faces deportation. Expect more of this under newly-minted citizenship legislation.

For many Canadians, being 24 means working long hours, enjoying friend-filled weekends and even experiencing the wonders of travel.

For Ottawa-born Deepan Budlakoti, being 24 means making court appearances to prove he is Canadian. Budlakoti is awaiting judgment on a rare legal case that has rendered him stateless for over a year — one that he says has left his life in complete disarray.

“The biggest impact [is] being stressed, not sleeping well, going into financial debt. Basically losing everything,” says Budlakoti. “You’re completely messed up after, you don’t have a normal life.”

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Joint Statement on the Act to Steal Citizenship

Joint statement by Fuerza-Puwersa, Justice for Migrant Workers, Justice for Deepan, No One Is Illegal – Montreal, No One Is Illegal – Ottawa, No One Is Illegal – Toronto, No One Is Illegal – Vancouver, Solidarity Across Borders.

published on Rabble.ca, 3 July 2014

The federal government has just passed Bill C-24, an Act to Steal Citizenship (or what they call Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act), which further dismantles Canada’s already exclusionary and racist immigration system. This law will likely come into effect in 2014 and citizenship, which is already out of the reach for most migrants, will be much harder to get and it will be easier to taken away at the discretion of immigration officials. This Act targets people with dual citizenship, make its harder for people to appeal court decisions, and gives unprecedented power to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. 

This comes at a time when most avenues to permanent residency (which one has to get before applying for citizenship) have already been severely gutted. Since the late 1990s, more people have been entering Canada on temporary status than with access to permanent residency. After a decade of steady decline, refugee acceptances (which represent less than 0.1 per cent of the world’s refugees) hit a historic low last year. This trend is largely due to the Refugee Exclusion Act that legally discriminates based on nationality.

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The government is weakening Canadian citizenship

0616Deepan_09.JPGJonathon McLeod, Ottawa Citizen, 24 June 2014

Canadian citizenship is under attack and a native-born Canadian is at the epicentre. The government has stripped him of his citizenship, leaving a craterous void in his legal status. He has never lived anywhere else, and now he is not supposed to live here.

By any sane metric, Deepan Budlakoti is Canadian. Born in Ottawa, the 24-year-old has lived his entire life in Canada. His parents immigrated from India, working for the Indian ambassador. It was around the time they left these jobs that Budlakoti was born, and upon this quirk does his citizenship ride.

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Federal Court hears Budlakoti’s citizenship case

Budlakoti_250pxAaron L. Pope, Ottawa Star, 20 June 2014

Deepan Budlakoti, the Ottawa-born man facing deportation by the Canadian government, appeared in front of the Federal Court of Canada on Monday, June 16 to fight for the return of his Canadian citizenship.

Dozens of supporters gathered on the front steps of the Supreme Court, where the hearing was held, to show their support for Budlakoti before the hearing got underway.

Budlakoti has been fighting to stay in Canada, the only home he’s ever known, for the past three years. The Canadian government is of the opinion that Budlakoti should never have been granted citizenship due to the circumstances of his birth along with two criminal convictions.

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