Farzana Hassan: It’s unjust to revoke the citizenship of refugees’ children
2016/10/15 Leave a comment
Good piece by Farzana Hassan on the streamlined revocation process, without right to a hearing or equivalent procedural protections. Welcome contrast to much of the other commentary in the Sun:
Monsef’s mother filed an application stating her children were born in Afghanistan, but it turns out the MP was born just across the border in Iran, during her mother’s several crossings to avoid persecution and harassment from the Taliban.
Did her mother lie about this? No one can be sure. Language could have been a barrier, or she may have been too distraught. After all, they were faced with the constant threat of harassment, even death.
It was the Harper government that revised the legislation to allow citizenship revocation without a hearing, but it is the Trudeau government that has been enforcing it quite aggressively, stripping people of Canadian citizenship at the rate of approximately thirteen individuals per month.
Such policing seems a little ironic considering Trudeau’s soft approach to revoking the citizenship of terrorists, people who should have professed binding loyalty to the people and soil of Canada. But they lied about their intention. The very basis of their entry into Canada was a false premise.
By contrast, should we be tolerant of the offspring of parents who may have committed errors on their application for a host of forgivable reasons? It may even be naive to expect poor and illiterate refugee status applicants trying to escape Taliban brutality to even understand the concept of citizenship. The law should show some flexibility towards such migrants, and more towards their hapless children.
Some migrants falsely filing their own application deserve to have their citizenship revoked. But by no means should their children be made to suffer.
Trudeau is silent on this controversy over a government insider. And Monsef too is hardly forthright enough. But the law is still unjust when it affects the children of refugees.
In order to rectify any past injustices and to bring some fairness to the debate, we are required to ask if mistakes of the past will be rectified. That is, once the MP’s case has brought the absurdity of the law into the limelight, will people already stripped of their citizenship and deported be allowed to have their citizenship status restored?
To quote Josh Peterson, executive director of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, “When we get a parking ticket, we have a right to a court hearing…and yet for citizens to lose their entitlement to membership in Canada based on allegations of something they may or may not have said 20 years ago, they have no hearing? It just doesn’t make any sense.”
Paterson is part of a group that launched a constitutional challenge to the law. Trudeau’s response to the Maryam Monsef case should have a huge bearing on this challenge. Let us hope a touch of humanity will soften this tough legislation.