An appeal on behalf of ‘ out of status’ Bahamians

Immigration Matters                 Sukhram Ramkissoon

Dear Mr. Minister

An appeal on behalf of  ‘ out of status’ Bahamians

Dear Minister Hussen,

As Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, you have implemented several programs that have positively affected many immigrants in Canada.

The recent pilot program which lifted the ban on  sponsors who did not declare their  dependent children was one of the noteworthy initiatives which was greeted with joy by many in our Caribbean community.

Congratulations to you and the Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for launching these initiatives.

Today, I would like to make a special appeal to you and your government on behalf of Bahamians in Canada who find themselves in great distress following the devastation in their native country caused by a recent hurricane.

You are no doubt aware of the tens of thousands of inhabitants of the Bahamas affected by Hurricane Dorian which devastated homes and hotels in that Caribbean tourism haven.

According to media reports, “the hurricane’s devastating 185mph winds brought destruction to Grand Bahama and the Abaco Islands and left at least 43 people dead … Up to 70,000 people have been left homeless”

As a result, large numbers of Bahamians have fled their native country.

My office is currently representing several “out of status” Bahamians who have lived in Canada for several years and will become victims of this terrible catastrophe in their homeland, if they were deported.

Let me tell you, Mr. Minster, the heart-rending story about one of my clients whose name is Geleta and who is originally from Abaco Island. She has asked me to make this plea in my column on her behalf.

Back in early March 2019, our office submitted a humanitarian and compassionate application on her behalf which was acknowledged.   In our submissions, we indicated that she entered Canada in September 2015 as a visitor and subsequently initiated a claim for protection in December 2015 which was denied.

She suffers from a serious disease and said that if she returns to her home country, she would face severe discrimination along with emotional and economic hardships. 

Geleta also claimed that she had experienced mental and physical abuse in the Bahamas.

In April 2019 she was issued with a Pre-Removal Risk Application which she completed and submitted and as a result is now the holder of a work permit.  She has three children and seven grandchildren in Canada.

It should be noted that CBSA had stayed her removal for quite some time, allowing her to continue to receive medical attention. However, her condition has not improved.

“Now where am I going to live, if I am deported? I have no home in the Bahamas. Where am I going to stay?”  Geleta said in tears.

Clearly, Mr. Minister, it would be inhumane to return nationals of the Bahamas such as Geleta back to their native country where there are  now thousands of homeless people.

On behalf of my Bahamian clients, other practitioners, community groups and concerned citizens, I am appealing to the Government of Canada to grant permanent residence status to all those citizens of the Bahamas who can satisfy the Canadian authorities that they have no home in Bahamas to which they can return.

Mr. Minister, during your tenure you have made several changes for the betterment of all immigrants.

We hope that you will continue to do the same for those whose lives have been turned upside down by the disaster caused by Hurricane Dorian.

SUKHRAM RAMKISSOON is a member of ICCRC and specialises in Immigration Matters at No. 3089 Bathurst Street, Suite 219A, Toronto, Ontario. Phone 416 789 5756.