Supporters call on Ministers Alexander and Blaney to halt deportation of Canadian-born man, recognize his citizenship at a press conference in Parliament
Ottawa, 18 September 2013 — New evidence in Deepan Budlakoti’s case, received yesterday, has shaken the foundations of the government attempt to deport the 23-year old, Ottawa-born construction worker.
Speaking at a press conference in Parliament this morning, immigration lawyer Peter Stieda announced, “We have just received confirmation from S.J.S. Chhatwal, the former High Commissioner of India in Canada, that Deepan’s parents were not working for him at the time of Deepan’s birth. There is absolutely no reasonable basis to doubt that Deepan is Canadian. Rather than stripping him of status, this government is legally obliged to restore his citizenship and remove all conditions against him.”
Deepan’s parents originally came to Canada to cook and clean for Ambassador Chhatwal. The Canadian government has previously maintained that they were working for Chhatwal at the time of Deepan’s birth. This allowed Canadian officials to rely on a little-used part of Immigration law governing foreign diplomats to deny Deepan’s status as a Canadian, effectively rendering Deepan stateless. Stieda describes the situation, “as a complete abomination and a violation of the Charter and International Law.”
Deepan had more good news to announce. “Immigration Canada was withholding my work permit. I was cut off from all means of supporting myself and had to rely on friends and family. But yesterday, due to political pressure and court action, I finally received my work permit.”
Although the CBSA-enforced (Canada Border Service Agency) curfew could continue to prevent Deepan from working early morning construction jobs, Deepan said, “I am encouraged that with community support and legal action, I was able to achieve this victory. Today, I am calling on the Ministers to restore my citizenship, and help me stay with my family and community here in Ottawa.”
Harry Ghadban, Eastern Ontario Director for the Canadian trade union, UNIFOR also spoke at the press conference, expressing labour support for Deepan’s cause. UNIFOR is a recently created national union resulting from the merger of Communications, Energy and Paperworkers and the Canadian Auto Workers.
After the press conference, the Justice for Deepan Support Committee, Ghadban and Stieda will attempt to deliver letters calling on Minister of Public Safety Steven Blaney and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander to stop the deportation and reinstate Deepan’s citizenship.
“The Justice for Deepan support Committee intends to deliver a clear message to the Minister of Public Safety and the Minister of Citizenship that Canadians want Deepan’s deportation to be stopped permanently and immediately”, said organizer Lena McFarlane. “More than a dozen civil society organizations from Montreal to Vancouver and hundreds of community members have endorsed Deepan’s campaign to date. It is time for an end to the legacy of double-punishment for criminal offenses.”
Deepan was born in Ottawa, Canada in 1989. Deepan grew up believing he was a citizen of Canada. He has an Ontario birth certificate and held a Canadian passport. However, in May 2010, following a criminal conviction, the government suddenly informed him that it did not consider him a citizen. Having completed his criminal sentence, Deepan is now under a deportation order to India, his parents’ country of birth. He has never lived there, he has no family or other contacts in India, and knows little about the country. His entire family lives in Canada. Moreover, India does not recognize him as a citizen and has refused to issue travel documents for him. He currently has no nationality at all.