Family law, federal immigration laws in conflict around deportation

Posted by admin on Jul 19th, 2005

Toronto Star. Woman fights order to deport. Mother would have to leave kids. Family, federal laws in conflict. NICHOLAS KEUNG

A federal judge is being asked to deport a failed refugee claimant, even though it means the woman would be forced to separate from her two Canadian-born children. Lawyers for Lena Alexander, 28, appeared at a judiciary hearing yesterday in an attempt to stay the deportation order that would force her to return to Grenada, a Caribbean island devastated by hurricane damage. At issue is a provincial family court ruling that dealt with custody and non-removal issues.

In January, Justice Geraldine Waldman of Ontario family court ordered that Alexander must not be separated from her two children, Crystal and Dameon, now 6 and 3. Waldman felt there would be psychological damage if the children were
separated from their mother.

This ruling was further supported by Federal Court Justice Douglas Campbell. In January, Alexander, who has been in Canada since 1994, was granted a six-month reprieve against deportation from Campbell while the living conditions in Grenada stabilized.

Both Waldman and Campbell’s orders expire today, freeing Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s hands. But, at yesterday’s federal hearing, Immigration’s lawyer, Greg George, argued against extending the expired deportation reprieve, claiming it would set a bad precedent.

Allowing Alexander to stay would open a floodgate of failed refugee claimants with Canadian-born children, challenging deportation orders through provincial family court, George said.”The (federal) court has to maintain the integrity of the immigration scheme,” George told Justice Eleanor Dawson.

“It is the federal court that monitors immigration decisions.” Alexander’s lawyers, Amina Sherazee and Carole Simone Dahan, contended that the family court ruling that granted Alexander sole custody of her kids and banned their removal from Ontario automatically constitutes a “statutory stay” of the woman’s deportation, citing the 2002 Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

George countered that Alexander was using the family court proceeding to delay her own deportation.

“That’s a family law issue,” he noted. “(That) is a private matter. It would not bar a parent’s removal.” Sherazee disagreed: “A binding judicial decision of the provincial (family) court is not a private matter.” Dawson asked George to seek instructions from immigration officials by this
morning to see if they could delay Alexander’s deportation until Dawson’s ruling is complete, which could take several weeks. Or, she said, the court would consider extending the expiring stay order.

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