Haitian asylum seeker ‘living in hell’ 6 months after deportation from Quebec


Amid violent protests and civil unrest, the Canadian Border Services Agency halted deportations to Haiti on Friday, offering a temporary reprieve for 421 Haitian nationals still under an enforceable removal order.

Unfortunately this reprieve came too late for Oberne Pierre, a Haitian asylum seeker whose claim was denied after a year of living in Quebec.

Pierre crossed into Quebec at Roxham Road in the summer of 2017, but his refugee claim was denied and he was deported in August 2018.

Canadian authorities determined there was not enough evidence to prove Pierre’s safety was « at risk » in Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital.

Oberne Pierre’s home, on the left side, doesn’t have clean drinking water or reliable electricity. (Radio-Canada/Laurence Martin)

Like hundreds of Haitian asylum seekers who were denied the right to stay in Canada, Pierre had to pack his bags.

Returning to the life he had before has been difficult, especially since getting a taste of what his life could have been.

« I’m very frustrated, » Pierre said, « but we must abide by the law. »

Pierre’s dream of finding a better future in Canada is over, but he says his nightmare in Haiti is all too real.

« Haiti isn’t a life. People who live in Haiti, I don’t know, but for me it’s hell. We’re living in hell. » 

He told Radio-Canada that it’s been difficult to access even the most basic services, and finding clean drinking water has been a challenge.

« It’s been three days now that I haven’t found water, » he said, adding that his family only has access to limited electricity and sometimes goes days without it.

The water shortage is affecting millions of Haitians and is linked to the protests. Roadblocks make deliveries of gas to pumping stations impossible, and the government has been using petroleum imports as leverage to try and quell the demonstrations.

« It’s thanks to the grace of God I’m still living. Because I have nothing. No work, nothing at all, » he said.

He lives in a tiny home with a kitchen and bedroom in Pétionville, a suburb of Port-au-Prince.

Oberne Pierre said he wants to make a better life for his eight-year-old Tanorah. (Radio-Canada/Laurence Martin)

While living in Quebec, waiting for news about his claim, Pierre worked for a temp agency in Laval and sent money home to his wife and daughter.

Now, he says his hope lies with his eight-year-old daughter Tanorah, who stayed behind with his wife in Haiti while Pierre attempted to claim asylum in Canada.

« I’m going to fight so her future doesn’t happen in Haiti, » he said.

​Frantz André, a Montrealer who has been helping many Haitian asylum seekers through the Action Committee for People Without Status, worked on Pierre’s case and got to know him before the deportation.

André described him as « a gentleman, » saying that « he was the hope of the family since he came here. »

He said taking Pierre to the airport on the day he had to leave was « really painful » and the two still keep in touch every week.

« I’ve called everybody that I know in Haiti who could perhaps give him a job. » said André. « Right now he has not a penny to his name. »

Frantz André advocates on behalf of Haitian asylum seekers in Montreal. (Verity Stevenson/CBC)

André said that Haitian asylum seekers currently make up the largest proportion of those being deported from Canada.

He said it’s hypocritical that Canada has closed its embassy in Haiti and is advising Canadians not to travel there, but continued deporting people up until Feb. 15.

« Suddenly, because we have a 113 Canadians that are stuck in a hotel, they suddenly have to realize, ‘Okay we better put a moratorium.' »

The CBSA told CBC in an email Sunday that officials are « aware of the situation in Haiti and its impact on persons facing removal » and that the temporary stay on deportations is in effect until further notice.


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Supporters rally in support of Hamilton family facing deportation to Hungary – Hamilton


Thirty people have rallied outside of the Bay Street Federal Building in support of a Hamilton family that faces deportation to Hungary.

The four members of the Almassy-Palfi family have spent more than seven years building their lives in Canada, but will have to leave this weekend without a last-minute suspension of their deportation order.

Elizabeth Almassy has a PhD and was a college professor in Budapest, but has been working in Hamilton alongside her husband as building superintendents.

Elizabeth says she fled domestic violence in Hungary, along with her now teenaged sons, claiming refugee status in September 2011 but their claim was rejected last Spring.

If the deportation order can be suspended, she is hoping to eventually get the right to stay on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

Otherwise, the deportation order will be enforced on Sunday.

Her sons, 18-year-old Adam and 16-year-old Marton Palfi, just started new semesters at Westmount Secondary School. Adam hopes to start his post-secondary education in the fall, noting that he was just accepted into Carleton University.

Hamilton-East/Stoney Creek Liberal MP Bob Bratina says he supports the family’s desire to stay in Canada and is still advocating for what he calls “the right decision” to their active file.

In the meantime, Elizabeth says they are “so nervous, so stressed,” and “wish to stay here forever if we can.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Regina mother faces deportation to Hungary, forcible separation from her 4-year-old Canadian son


When Christina Schiller, 44, left Hungary with her two daughters to marry a Canadian seven years ago, she didn’t expect to end up broke and living in an emergency shelter.

When she was in that shelter, she never imagined things could get worse.

Now Schiller is facing deportation to Hungary and forced separation from her four-year-old son, Jayden, who was born in Canada. There is a court order, obtained by the boy’s Canadian father, requiring Jayden to remain in Canada, so Schiller would have no choice but to leave him behind.

« It’s the most painful thing that a parent could ever face, » Schiller said during an interview in her basement rental suite in Regina, Sask. « I lie awake at nights thinking about how I’ll miss out on the little things, like his first day at school. Is he eating? Is he brushing his teeth? All those things a parent worries about. »

Mounting evidence of ‘irreparable harm’

Schiller doesn’t have legal representation and filled out all of her immigration forms by herself. Her visitor’s visa expired years ago, and her attempt to stay in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds — to keep her family together — was denied. 

Immigration lawyer Leslie Morley, who has spent 30 years handling these kinds of cases in Ontario, said an argument that keeping a family together is in the best interests of the child is usually enough, if presented properly.

Ray Wuschenny of Regina, Sask., fears his son will be traumatized if his mother is deported. Wuschenny has a court injunction that prohibits his son from being taken out of Canada. (Ray Wuschenny/Facebook)

Morley said she is surprised a Canadian immigration officer would separate a child from his mother given the growing body of evidence from the United States on the irreparable harm such separations can inflict on a child. The U.S. separated an estimated 2,000 migrant children from their parents during a six-week crackdown at the Mexico-U.S. border in 2018. 

« It’s not anecdote, » Morley said. « [Immigration officials] gotta know. They may not understand, but it really turns the direction of the child’s path away from the straight and narrow. »

The American Academy of Pediatrics stated last year that forced separation can cause « irreparable harm to children, » including disruption of their « brain architecture. » The American Psychiatric Association stated it can cause « lifelong trauma, as well as an increased risk of other mental illnesses, such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. »

Other researchers have described behavioural and emotional changes, including anxiety, anger, withdrawal and aggression.

Stuck in Canada illegally

In 2011, Schiller fell in love with a Regina man whom she’d met online. He visited Schiller and her daughters, Mia and Kiara, aged one and 10 at the time, in Hungary and bought them plane tickets to move to Canada. The couple got married in Regina in January 2012.

Schiller said she wasn’t overly concerned that her husband didn’t want to fill out paperwork to sponsor her as a permanent resident or help her get a work permit.

« He wanted me to stay home with the children and be around when he was off work. »

Now, she suspects a darker motive. 

« I think it was a way of control, » Schiller said.

We’ve just really tried to keep our family together and live.– Christina Schiller

The relationship collapsed after a year. Schiller didn’t have money to move her kids into a different home or buy airfare back to Hungary. She knew her visitor permit would expire by the end of that year.

« I asked him to either help us leave or stay, and he really did neither. We ended up stuck in the country. »

Schiller eventually entered a new, but brief, relationship with Ray Wuschenny, a Canadian. She gave birth to their son, Jayden, in September 2014, shortly before her relationship with Wuschenny ended. After the breakup she spent three months with her three children in an emergency shelter.  

Christina Schiller and her family pose with their local MLA, Trent Wotherspoon, who calls the case ‘so incredibly sad.’ (Trent Wotherspoon/Facebook)

Shortly after Jayden’s birth, Wuschenny was worried about Schiller’s immigration status and obtained a court injunction in family court to prevent her from taking Jayden out of the country. Schiller said the non-removal order was « understandable. »  

Schiller was unable to take her son back to Hungary but unwilling to leave him behind. She stayed illegally in Canada with her two Hungarian-born daughters.

Schiller said she couldn’t work without a permit and couldn’t afford a lawyer to help with her immigration paperwork. For three years, she did nothing to resolve her immigration status. She said she realizes it may have hurt her chances but felt she didn’t have any options.

Her home is listed as the primary residence for her son. She shares joint custody with Jayden’s father. She and her three children survive on provincial social assistance and child-support payments from Jayden’s father.

« We haven’t tried to scam any system at all. We’ve just really tried to keep our family together and live. »

Immigration lawyer Leslie Morley said the joint custody ruling is essentially a court order saying Schiller has to stay in the country.

« If Immigration is deporting her then they’re violating a court order that says the child should be with her certain periods of time, » Morley said. 

Best interests of the child

In 2017, Schiller received a deportation order. She borrowed $1,340 from Jayden’s grandmother to apply to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada for permanent residence on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, which can apply to exceptional cases and considers « the best interests of any children involved, » according to the department.

Sixteen months later, in November 2018, Schiller received a letter that said she had been rejected. The letter did not cite a reason.

In response to an inquiry from CBC News, made with Schiller’s consent, the department said the officer who reviewed the case « was not satisfied that Ms. Schiller’s circumstances, taking into consideration the best interests of the children, merited an exemption on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. » It declined to provide more information.

Mia Schiller, 8, top right, says deportation would separate her from her brother, Jayden, who isn’t allowed to leave Canada. (Submitted by Kiara Schiller)

Jayden’s father said he can’t believe Canadian officials consider it in Jayden’s best interest to be separated from his mother. Ray Wuschenny is scared his son will resent him for Schiller’s deportation and be scarred by the loss of his mother.

« The mom’s love and cuddling with him, » Wuschenny said. « It’s hard to explain it. I know I’m close with my mom. I know the bond. I’m scared he won’t have the bond. »

Wuschenny said he also worries about Mia, an eight-year-old who has spent seven of those years in Canada. She can sing O Canada in Cree but only speaks four words in Hungarian.

« I don’t want to leave. I don’t want to leave my brother, » Mia said. « There are no friends [in Hungary]. No family. No life there. » 

Kiara, 18, has a few credits left to complete high school. She wants to finish high school and get a job, but without residency her life is in limbo. She’s trying to raise money to hire a lawyer for an appeal.

The Immigration Department won’t comment further, pending a judicial review requested by the family. The Canada Border Services Agency has stayed their deportation until after the review, which has yet to be scheduled.


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As holidays near, Winnipeg-based Venezuelan family faces deportation in New Year


Ana Sofia Rodrigues Suarez asked Santa for three things this Christmas: clothes, candy and to stay in Winnipeg instead of being deported in the New Year.

« I really want to stay here, » said Ana, 11, seated at a table with her colourful drawings and school work in the Westdale duplex the Venezuela-born sixth-grader shares with her parents, aunt and 86-year-old grandmother. 

« I have a lot of friends and they will be very sad if I left them. »

Watch Ana list Canadian things she’ll miss:

Ana Sofia Rodrigues Suarez, 11, says her friends will be sad if she and her family leave and are unable to come back to Winnipeg. 0:33

After a series of applications to stay in Manitoba were dismissed, Ana’s father, Luiz Antonio Rodrigues Bonito, said Canada Border Services Agency notified him this month he needed to buy plane tickets by Friday and be out of the country by Jan. 21.

« I feel sad, desperate, just because my daughter, you know, she is very happy here, » said Luiz, 56, who works as a janitor with his wife, Sandra Suarez de Rodrigues, 50, at a local church.

« When I talk to her and say, ‘You know, we must leave Canada,’ she really, really cry a lot. »

Luiz wipes snow off the family van during his first winter here in 2016. (Supplied by Bonito family)

Following a traumatic home invasion and robbery in 2014, the family fled Venezuela for Winnipeg, where Luiz’s brother’s family has lived since the 1970s.

Luiz’s mother, wife, daughter and sister, Cristina Rodrigues Bonito, left amid ongoing economic turmoil that spawned a refugee crisis that has seen over two million Venezuelans flee the South American country in recent years, according to estimates from the United Nations.

Economic turmoil

The family once ran a successful business that sold appliances to hotels and restaurants, but things changed in the mid-2000s, a few years after the late Hugo Chavez took over as president of oil-rich Venezuela. 

For a time, Chavez helped provide better health care and other opportunities for the poor and working classes, but his government also fixed prices for some foods and goods. By 2014, the price of oil had plummeted, and the government was left in serious debt.

Luiz said the Chavez government took over his business and many others. Soon it became a challenge to access basic services or find enough food at grocery stores, he said. Food shortages remain a problem in Venezuela.

Luiz and Sandra participated in an anti-government group and protests in Venezuela and were taken into custody for a day. Luiz said they were made to sign a document stating they would face indefinite jail time if they were arrested for similar protests again.

Two other cousins have been imprisoned in Venezuela in recent years for similar political activity, the family said.

Gun to the head

Then, in 2014, Cristina was approved as a permanent resident in Manitoba through the Provincial Nominee Program. She planned to postpone her move to Winnipeg until Luiz and the rest of the family had their approvals as well, but the home invasion that year changed that.

Cristina, left, says she plans to leave with her niece Ana, right, and her parents if they are forced to leave the country and settle in Portugal. (Gary Solilak/CBC)

« I was shocked. I was sleeping in my own bed and somebody covered my mouth and put a gun at the top of my head, » Cristina said with a quivering voice, adding the robbers tied the family up in a room and threatened them.

« What I was most scared about was we were seeing their faces … I said, ‘They’re going to kill us all,’ because that’s what happens when you see their faces. »

The family dogs died in the days before and tests later showed they were likely poisoned, said Cristina. 

It took a while for Ana to recover.

‘I’m crushed’

Luiz came to Winnipeg on a tourist visa in 2015, as did his wife and daughter, after having his application to Canada’s skilled labourer program dismissed. While here, he learned his application through the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program was dismissed in 2015.

Sandra, Ana and Luiz celebrate mother’s day at Oasis Church, where both adults work as custodians. (Supplied by Bonito family)

In 2017, Luiz and Sandra obtained work permits and their volunteering at Oasis Church turned into paid jobs as custodians.

They’ve become valued employees and members of the church, said the church’s community life pastor Kelly Gray.

He said news of their deportation is devastating.

Watch Gray’s goodbye message to the family:

Oasis Church community life pastor Kelly Gray says he was crushed to learn Luiz Bonito and his family are being deported next month. 0:22

« I’m crushed. I I don’t think there’s ever a good time to get news like that. Christmas doesn’t make it any easier, » said Gray.

« It’s such a friendly family, a loving family, and it’s hard to see this cloud hanging over them. I know they’re happy here. »

Kelly Gray, right, Ana, centre, Sandra and Luiz, left, talk about the holidays at Oasis Church Thursday. (Gary Solilak/CBC)

Luiz’s application to stay in Manitoba on humanitarian and compassionate grounds was rejected in 2017, so his wife, Sandra, filed for refugee status on behalf of the family that year. The refugee claim was denied and an attempt to appeal at the federal court level was dismissed this fall.

Humanitarian case

They’re now waiting for the results of a November humanitarian and compassionate case application they made in the interest of Ana’s well-being. The Canadian Human Rights International Organization, which advocates on behalf of thousands of refugees worldwide, is handling that plea and helping to get the Bonitos’ story out.

« They believe … they will be targeted upon their re-entry into Venezuela which will put not only their lives in danger, but it will also put their daughter’s life in danger, » reads a Dec. 12 letter addressed to Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland. « Ana’s safety is their main priority. »

Luiz bought notified Canada Border Services Agency via email Thursday night he had purchased tickets to Portugal on Jan. 21, 2019. (Gary Solilak/CBC)

Cristina and Luiz were born in Brazil, but also fear for their safety if they were to move there.

Their late father, born in Portugal, arranged for Luiz and Cristina to obtain passports from that country as a contingency in case things in Canada fell through. 

On Thursday night, Luiz bought the family tickets to Madeira, Portugal, for Jan. 21. They don’t know anyone there.

Although she can technically stay in Manitoba, Cristina is going to leave with her brother’s family and mother.

‘Respect our laws’

A Canada Border Services Agency spokesperson refused to comment on the case, but said decisions to remove people from Canada aren’t taken lightly.

« Everyone ordered removed from Canada is entitled to due process, » the spokesperson wrote in an email. 

« Once due process is complete and individuals have exhausted all legal avenues, they are expected to respect our laws and leave Canada or be removed. »

Cristina and Ana pose next to their first Winnipeg snowman in 2016. (Supplied by Bonito family)

For Ana, she loves being close to her uncle’s family in Winnipeg. Her three years in the cold Prairie city have been full of firsts. French is one of her favourite subjects, as are the people.

« It’s fun. I can have a snowball fight and I can make, what are they called, snowmans, » she said.

« People are really nice to me here and I like school a lot and I like everything about it. »

As many Manitobans plan to come together for the holidays, one Winnipeg-based Venezuelan family is facing deportation in the New Year. 3:23


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‘A lot of people facing potential deportation’ under upcoming changes to DUI penalties: immigration lawyer


Getting an impaired driving conviction is a big deal for anyone — but for permanent and temporary residents of Canada, it could soon mean deportation.

That’s because of a change one immigration worker says « violates basic Canadian values and human rights, » and which a permanent residents says leave him worried about his friends and family.

On Dec. 18, amendments to the Criminal Code come into effect that will increase the maximum sentence for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol to 10 years from five.

The changes are part of Bill C-46, which was intended to update impaired driving rules in light of legalized recreational cannabis use.

But the increased penalties also mean convictions for impaired driving will fall under the category of « serious criminality » for immigration determination purposes.

That change, in turn, triggers a section of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act dealing with admissibility to Canada.

You make a mistake and you’re out.… I’m scared for my family. I’m scared for everyone now.– Mathew Joseph, IRCOM

It says a permanent resident convicted for a serious crime — an offence punishable by a maximum sentence of at least 10 years — or who receives a sentence of more than six months imprisonment will be sent to a deportation hearing. 

Under the immigration act, people convicted of those « serious » crimes also lose the ability to appeal any deportation order through the Immigration Appeal Division, although they can still ask to stay on humanitarian or compassionate grounds.

The stiffer penalties also mean temporary residents who are convicted of impaired driving after Dec. 18 — including international students and foreign workers — may not be able to stay in Canada.

Refugee claimants who are already in Canada and are convicted may be ineligible to have their claim referred to a refugee board hearing under the new rules.

‘I’m scared for everyone now’

That worries some immigrant support workers and groups.

« You make a mistake and you’re out, » said 30-year-old Mathew Joseph, who is himself a permanent resident. He’s Sudanese and came to Canada in 2005 from a Kenyan refugee camp.

He is now studying business economics at university in Winnipeg and works part-time with young people at the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba (IRCOM).

He’s been busy explaining Canada’s new laws on impaired driving to local teenagers — most of whom came to Canada as refugees.

Chantel Hakazimana, centre, says she worries some of her friends and family could get into trouble under the new, tougher impaired driving measures coming into effect on Dec. 18. (Trevor Brine/CBC News)

« After next month, if you consume it, you get high, you get pulled over and they test  you, you will possibly be positive — and because of that, you’re subject to be deported if you’re a permanent resident, » he told a group of them at a meeting Wednesday evening.

Something as simple as a holiday treat could get them into trouble, Joseph warns.

« Holidays are coming up. Let’s say family members, [a] Canadian family offer me a cookie — I’m gonna have to refuse. I don’t know what’s in that cookie. If there’s weed in that cookie … I get in trouble with it, » he told the teens.

« I’m also subject to be deported.… I’m scared for me and I’m scared for you. I’m scared for my family. I’m scared for everyone now. »

The teens don’t think that’s fair.

The rules create « a double standard, » for those who live in Canada but weren’t born here, says 16-year-old Chantel Hakazimana.

She moved to Winnipeg from Tanzania when she was six years old. Although she’s a permanent resident, she feels as Canadian as anyone else.

« Of course I’m scared, » she said. « Weed is a big problem in Canada. »

‘We’re talking about banishing someone’

It’s why immigrant support groups are working hard to educate and warn permanent and temporary residents, including international students and foreign workers.

« We’re talking about banishing someone, » said Dorota Blumczynska, executive director of IRCOM.

« We’re talking about permanent exile from our community. We’re talking about separating families entirely. »

IRCOM executive director Dorota Blumczynska says the laws of the land must be respected, but says a DUI conviction is not enough reason to deport someone. (Trevor Brine/CBC News )

She’s concerned the stiffer penalties will further criminalize people who are already marginalized and racialized, and are often from low-income communities.

« Linking someone’s immigration status and their sense of belonging and permanency in Canada to being deported if they happen to make a mistake, which any of us could make naturally, is inhumane, » she said.

« I think it violates basic Canadian values and human rights, and in fact likely goes against many of our international obligations. »

The changes put judges in an unfair position too, she says.

« I think it is the role of government to step back and say … we need to be able to enforce the rule of law and Canadian law upon anyone here under the authority of our laws, but those people should not be subjected to that double punishment of losing their status and losing their home. »

‘It’s not automatic that if the person engages in certain behaviours, that they will be deported,’ Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen says. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Border Security Minister Bill Blair has previously said the intent of the Criminal Code amendments is to deter everyone from driving high.

Meanwhile, Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen says no one will be deported without due process.

« It’s not automatic that if the person engages in certain behaviours, that they will be deported, » he said in Ottawa Wednesday.

However, permanent residents who are convicted will lose an important avenue of appeal.

Hussen’s department is looking into the implications.

« That analysis is ongoing but at the same time, we have to educate people of the consequences of the law as it is today, » he said, acknowledging he’s getting a lot of pressure from immigrant and refugee advocates, who say the new measures are unfair to newcomers.

Toronto immigration lawyer Sergio Karas says new impaired driving provisions are an unfair double-whammy for permanent residents in Canada. He worries there will be many people facing deportation because of DUI convictions after Dec. 18. (Joe Fiorino/CBC News )

« The ministers, especially Mr. Hussen, have a lot to explain, » said Toronto immigration lawyer Sergio Karas.

« This is ridiculous, what they’re doing with DUIs. I’m sure we’re going to see a lot of people facing potential deportation due to DUIs in this country. »

Karas hopes judges will take an offender’s immigration status into account — while still imposing sentences fit for the crime.

But he knows that courts of appeal could overturn those sentences, and possibly even increase them.

Manitoba appeal court overturns sentence  

That happened last month when the Manitoba Court of Appeal overturned a reduced, « artificial » sentence handed down by a judge who acknowledged that a longer punishment would trigger a deportation hearing for the 23-year-old permanent resident.

Karas has two pieces of advice for permanent residents.

« As soon as you’re ready to become a citizen because you’ve fulfilled the requirements of the citizenship legislation and you have put in the time in Canada, please apply for citizenship, because that will save you a lot of problems, » he said.

« No. 2 would be for permanent residents to be very much aware that they’re not citizens of this country and any type of criminal offence may trigger deportation proceedings. »

Getting an impaired driving conviction is a big deal for anyone — but for permanent and temporary residents of Canada, it could soon mean deportation. 2:33


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Former double agent spared deportation to Tunisia


Hussein Ali Sumaida spent years as a spy — first as an informant for Iraq’s notorious secret police and later for Israel’s Mossad intelligence service.

But he’s spent the last 28 years engaged in the toughest fight of his life — trying to stay in Canada.

Hussein Ali Sumaida, a former double agent for the Israeli intelligence service and the Saddam Hussein regime, has won a reprieve in his battle to stay in Canada — a country he has called home since 1990.
Hussein Ali Sumaida, a former double agent for the Israeli intelligence service and the Saddam Hussein regime, has won a reprieve in his battle to stay in Canada — a country he has called home since 1990.  (Steve Russell / Toronto Star File Photo)

Last week, the former double agent won a partial victory in his decades-old battle for asylum when the Federal Court ruled he was not afforded “procedural fairness” when immigration officials made their most recent assessment and determined he would be safe to return to his homeland.

In ruling that Sumaida deserved another chance, Federal Justice Yvan Roy was critical of the remarks made by an immigration official that referenced the man’s autobiography, describing him as a “chameleon” in being able to fit in and survive in all environments.

“The choice of that passage tends to confirm that the applicant is not to be believed. Mr. Sumaida is a chameleon who can tell what needs to be told depending on his interest and the particular circumstances in which he finds himself,” Roy wrote in his decision released Nov. 13.

“There may well have been reasons why the applicant’s credibility might be doubted. But given the stakes, he has to be advised of the concerns, thus having a fair opportunity to answer.”

Sumaida, who has three grown-up children and lives with his wife in Hamilton, said he is ecstatic with the court decision.

“I try not to think of living in limbo. This is home regardless of what immigration says,” Sumaida, 53, said in an interview. “I’m not entitled to a work permit, not entitled to any kind of assistance or health coverage. With all these obstacles I am enjoying life with family and enjoying every minute of it.”

Sumaida was born in 1965, the son of Ali Mahmoud Sumaida, a trusted member of Saddam Hussein’s Baath party and a former diplomat under the regime. The younger Sumaida attended school in England and knew the notorious Iraqi leader’s sons, Uday and Qusay.

For many years, he was an informant for the Iraqi secret police, the Mukhabarat and spied on members of the Al Da’wa opposition party in the United Kingdom. Sumaida later switched sides and worked for Mossad, the Israeli secret service, and spied on members of the Palestine Liberation Organization until he felt he wasn’t safe doing the job anymore, according to court documents.

Details of his espionage activities were published in his 1991 autobiography, The Circle of Fear, A Renegade’s Journey from the Mossad to the Iraqi Secret Service.

Samaida came to Canada in 1990 and sought asylum in Toronto. However, he was deemed inadmissible a year later due to “espionage” activities officials claimed made him complicit in crimes against humanity. He has been fighting his deportation ever since.

In 2005, after years of appeals and challenges in courts and tribunals, he was deported to Tunisia, his father’s birthplace, where he claimed he was tortured by local officials upon his arrival. He made his way back to Canada a year later under a false identity.

In 2007, an immigration official determined he would be at risk of torture or death if he was returned to Iraq or Tunisia. But four years later, he was advised the matter was not closed and the immigration minister’s delegate would make the final call on his deportation.

Another five years passed when, in 2011, the minister’s delegate informed Sumaida they would make another assessment to see if his life would still be at risk if he was again deported to Tunisia. Last year, the delegate concluded Sumaida was not credible and the human rights conditions in Tunisia have changed such that he would no longer be in danger. Sumaida appealed the decision before the Federal Court.

“If there were issues with his credibility after such a long period of time, procedural fairness required that they be raised in a clear fashion,” Roy said in his ruling.

“To compound the issue, a so-called ‘fairness letter’ was sent to (Sumaida) on Jan. 26, 2017, three weeks after the hearing before the minister’s delegate, which focused exclusively on the current, at the time, country conditions in Iraq and Tunisia … the credibility issues were not raised.”

Nicholas Keung is a Toronto-based reporter covering immigration. Follow him on Twitter: @nkeung


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