Canada’s DACA moment?
Imagine yourself in this situation:
You’re a 35-year-old permanent resident of Canada who is married with two children. You have a good job and have lived a peaceful, law-abiding life since you moved to Canada with your parents when you were five.
One day, it comes to light that your recently deceased father misrepresented a material fact about himself on your family’s application for permanent residence some 30 years before. It turns out your father failed to mention that he had been convicted of a serious crime when he was a younger, less disciplined man.
The revelation comes as a shock, but it’s about to get worse. A recent Federal Court of Canada ruling now means a dependent could be stripped of their permanent resident status if it’s discovered his or her parent misrepresented a material fact when applying for immigration to Canada.
Based on this precedent, a judge invalidates your permanent resident status and the immigration authorities order your removal from Canada — to a country you never really knew, for a crime you didn’t commit.
This fictional scenario may sound implausible, but it’s a price some immigrants may start paying for a parent’s sin as a result of this recent Federal Court of Canada decision.
The ruling in question concerned a man granted permanent residence status back in 2008. The man, who was 25 at the time, accompanied his mother and father to Canada, with the father serving as the principal applicant on their application for permanent residence. The father and mother returned to India soon after their arrival in Canada, but the son stayed behind, later marrying a Canadian citizen and fathering two Canadian-born children.
Years later, Canadian authorities learned that the father had misrepresented himself on the application by lying about a murder conviction. The son was called before an Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) hearing to determine if his permanent resident status should be revoked as a result, but both the IRB and a subsequent appeal hearing found in his favour.
Not satisfied with those results, Canada’s Immigration Ministry asked the Federal Court of Canada to review the IRB’s decisions. In March, Justice Richard Mosley returned with a written judgment in which he determined the son should never have been granted permanent resident status.
“If the principal applicant is inadmissible, the dependant is inadmissible,” Justice Mosley wrote.
“He gained that status by virtue of his father’s misrepresentation. His father was inadmissible because of that misrepresentation.”
Justice Mosley ordered the case returned to the IRB’s Immigration Appeal Division for reconsideration based on his ruling. If the earlier decision is overturned, the son could face imminent removal from Canada, despite the life and family he’s built here.
Here in Canada, we’ve been watching the debate in the United States over the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, and the so-called Dreamers convinced that no such thing could happen here.
We like to think that Canada is different, that we’re compassionate and fair. It’s an image our current government likes to promote as a counter-narrative to the rising tide of nativist sentiment in the U.S. and elsewhere, emphasizing the value of immigration and Canada’s commitment to reuniting families, not forcing them apart.
Given this idea of ourselves, many Canadians would no doubt be surprised to know that we could soon see the kind of removals from this country that DACA was meant to prevent.
It’s now up to Canada’s courts to employ this precedent wisely and ensure DACA remains something we only read about in Canada, not live.