A dozen supporters and friends of Deepan accompanied Deepan on 22 January 2014 to deliver the following letter to Trudeau’s office. Trudeau’s staff refused to lift a finger to help; despite repeated requests they refused to try to schedule a meeting or even commit to responding by email. Meanwhile, a picket took place outside the office, informing passers by of Deepan’s case and Trudeau’s refusal to intervene.
Dear Mr. Trudeau,
We are friends and supporters of Deepan Budlakoti, many of us also members of your electoral riding, who have come to your office today out of a sense of deep frustration at your refusal to support Mr. Budlakoti.
As you know, Mr. Budlakoti is an Ottawa-born man who is living under a deportation order to India, a country where he does not even have citizenship. The threat of deportation against Mr. Budlakoti is the result of an unjust immigration system, and specifically of legislation within the immigration system that doubly punishes non-citizens with criminal convictions. The fact that Deepan’s citizenship is even being questioned, despite evidence that the basis for this questioning is false, is another dimension of the injustice of his situation.
On 7 February 2011, at a time when you believed Mr. Budlakoti’s problems were resolved, you wrote to Mr. Budlakoti offering future support, “if you are continuing to have problems regarding this issue, you may contact me at my office so that I may further assist you.”
Mr. Budlakoti and his supporters took you at your word. Beginning in September 2013, we contacted your office on many occasions seeking your support. We provided documentation, , including a letter from Amnesty International calling on Canada to abide by international law in Mr. Budlakoti’s case, showing that Mr. Budlakoti’s case raises serious questions of broad social importance.
This support never came. On 10 January 2014, your assistant finally informed us that, “C’est avec grande peine que je dois vous dire que malheureusement, M. Trudeau ne pourra pas intervenir dans ce dossier. (I am very sorry to have to inform you that unfortunately Mr. Trudeau will not be able to intervene in this file).”
Mr. Budlakoti’s case is not just about him. It is about others who are affected by unjust immigration policies and practices which criminalize the racialized poor. It is about the way our society treats immigrant families, young men of colour, and workers. Mr. Budlakoti’s struggle for recognition in this society has become emblematic and many people in all parts of the country are watching it.
In this context, your refusal to intervene is not neutral. It reflects a lack of accountability to the people you are claiming to speak for, and in whose lives you have power to make significant improvement. By refusing to intervene in Mr. Budlakoti’s situation you are in fact supporting the injustices that the Conservative government is inflicting on him, and the injustices of the policy of double punishment. We find this reprehensible.
We are here to ask you to support Mr. Budlakoti’s struggle, to use the power that you have at your disposal to intervene in this matter.
Supporters of Deepan Budlakoti
Justice for Deepan! End double punishment!