The Link, 26 October 2013
Deepan Budlakoti Says “They’re Picking On Me Because I’m Not White”!
The lawyer for Deepan Budlakoti, Yavar Hameed says theHarper government’s track record is “showing a racial bias”in the way it handles convicted criminals. While some convictedfelons, like Conrad Black and Brenda Martin, get thered-carpet treatment, others like Budlakoti are deemed undesirableand every effort is made to oust them, Hameed said.For instance, Black, the former newspaper magnate, wasallowed to return to Canada from a U.S. prison in 2012despite renouncing his citizenship a decade earlier so hecould take a British noble title. In 2008, the government evenchartered – at a cost of more than $80,000 – a private jet to flyMartin home from a Mexican prison less than a month aftershe was sentenced to five years for fraud. She was released inless than two weeks later.
A man born to Indian Consular Officials in Canada is being kicked out by Stephen Harper’s Conservative Government for not being Canadian and his lawyer is crying foul that his client is being made a scapegoat in the government’s unhealthy focus on kicking out immigrants and in the case of his client who is clearly a Canadian – the Conservative overnment is trampling on his constitutional rights by trying to render him stateless and force him out of the country.
Deepan Budlakoti, who was convicted of a crime in Canada, was born in Ontario and once issued a Canadian passport, but is now deemed a non-citizen by the government, which is trying to expel him to India. In the latest bizarre twist, Budlakoti wants a federal judge to rule that he is “a Canadian citizen” and stop the efforts of federal ministers to render him “stateless, contrary to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” reported the Globe and Mail newspaper.
“It’s insane that the Harper government is taking this position against a Canadian-born man who has lived his entire life here,” said Yavar Hameed, the attorney representing Budlakoti, 23. The government must respond to the suit by next week.”
“They’re picking on me because I’m not white,” said Budlakoti.” Since I’m brown they made the assumption that ‘this guy might not be a citizen.’
“Budlakoti spent two years in prison after convictions for weapons and drug offences. His sentence ended in December, 2012. While he was in prison, citizenship officials began an attempt to remove him permanently to India and kept him in detention for months after his sentence was completed.”
They’re treating me like a second-class citizen, they’ve takeneverything from me, my passport, my ability to work. I had togo to federal court just to get awork permit,” said Budlakoti, inan interview. He’s still awaiting a new social insurance number after Ottawa voided his original.
Ottawa claims Budlakoti is a citizen of India, was never a Canadian and it makes no difference that he has an Ontariobirth certificate and was issued aCanadian passport.
But the government has alsobeen keeping evidence fromBudlakoti. Under a Privacy Actrequest, Budlakoti’s lawyershave uncovered previouslyundisclosed documents that theCanadian government knew,since last March, of India’s formalposition that Budlakoti wasnot an Indian citizen.
The government has “intentionally and inbad faith concealed information from[Budlakoti] regarding his case and hasmisled the Canadian public about [his]status in Canada while conspiring withthe Minister of Public Safety to remove[Budlakoti] from Canada,”claims the federal court filingwhich seeks a declarationthat Budlakoti “is aCanadian citizen.”The government has yet torespond.Ottawa contends thatwhen Budlakoti was bornin October, 1989, his parentswere servants to thethen Indian high commissionerin Ottawa and thustheir child was covered bydiplomatic immunity andnot entitled to Canadiancitizenship. Both parentseventually applied for andwere granted Canadian citizenshipbut omittedDeepan from the application because -they say – they were told by Canadianofficials he was already Canadian.Meanwhile, the then Indian high commissioner,in a letter made public lastmonth, has confirmed the Budlakotiswere no longer working for him at thetime of Deepan’s birth.India has told Canada it doesn’t regardBudlakoti as a citizen and won’t issue hima passport or permit his entry into thecountry.Hameed says the government’s trackrecord is “showing a racial bias” in theway it handles convicted criminals.Whilesome convicted felons, like Conrad Blackand Brenda Martin, get the red-carpettreatment, others likeBudlakoti are deemed undesirableand every effort ismade to oust them,Hameed said.For instance, Black, the formernewspaper magnate,was allowed to return toCanada from a U.S. prisonin 2012 despite renouncinghis citizenship a decade earlierso he could take aBritish noble title. In 2008,the government even chartered- at a cost of morethan $80,000 – a private jetto fly Martin home from aMexican prison less than amonth after she was sentencedto five years for fraud. She wasreleased in less than two weeks later.A very different approach was taken withBudlakoti. “They’re using me as a scapegoat,the Harper government is trying toshow it can deport people faster and ifthey can deport me it will set a precedent and they’ll be able to deport others,” he said.
Courtesy Globe and Mail