Shabby Treatment

Peggy Revell, Medicine Hat News, 9 July 2013

Deepan Budlakoti says he’s Canadian. The government says he isn’t.

The 23-year-old could be deported to India in the upcoming days ((note: this is inaccurate, India is refusing to grant entry, so deportation is far from imminent –J4D)) thanks to a criminal record. It’s a country in which he’s never set foot.

The government is arguing that Budlakoti was born when his parents worked for the Indian High Commissioner in 1989. That makes him Indian, not Canadian. Budlakoti was issued an Ontario birth certificate. He was even issued a Canadian passport, something the government now says was an error.

The Indian government doesn’t want him, and says he isn’t an Indian citizen.

This isn’t a defence of what the 23-year-old has done. His criminal record includes hundreds of break-ins, and even attempting to sell a gun to an undercover cop. Sure, throw him in jail.

But deporting him is a knee-jerk, pitchfork and burning torch “get the criminal” reaction. As a country, we don’t ship off our problems.

By foisting Budlakoti on India, the Canadian government has basically let a criminal go free in another country, ready to cause harm and damage there. That’s not right, nor fair.

Should Budlakoti go to jail in India it will be for not “legally” being there, without an Indian citizenship. It won’t be for the crimes he committed in Canada. Budlakoti should do the time for the crimes he committed not jail time due to a mistake by the Canadian government. That’s the basic peace order and good governance we claim at the core of our constitution.

It’s easy to justify such an act when it’s happening to a criminal like Budlakoti, but a bureaucratic snafu justifying stripping what someone thought was their citizenship and rights sets a horrific precedence for all Canadians. It means no citizen is “safe.” It sets up conditions where Canadian citizens, like the now famous cause of Maher Arar, can be deported and tortured.

If one thinks this is far-fetched, look south of the border to the U.S., where Immigration and Customs Enforcement have illegally detained and even deported American citizens to countries they’ve never been to, thanks to numerous bureaucratic mistakes, inadequate safeguards and dragnet techniques for deporting undocumented immigrants.

Whether or not Budlakoti is Canadian, what the federal government is doing is un-Canadian.