Things were looking up for Daksh Sood. The immigration department has so far stuck to its guns in refusing to allow the 3½-year-old Indian boy into Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, even though his parents have lived here as permanent residents since early 2013.
But the Sood family’s dilemma has not gone unnoticed. An online petition was posted on change.org after Matthew Behrens of Perth read the Public Citizen’s story about the plight of Daksh’s mother, Bhavna Bajaj, and father Aman Sood. The petition, posted Jan. 25, has so far garnered support from about 6,280 people in Canada and countries around the world. It is hoped the petition and comments left on it by supporters will help sway Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander into action.
Now may be a good time, as Alexander’s department doesn’t seem to know what it is talking about.
An email sent in November by Bajaj and Sood to people who they thought could help them, including Ottawa West-Nepean MP John Baird, eventually found its way to Immigration, probably through Baird’s office. On Jan. 29, the couple was informed by Immigration’s case management branch that it had received their email regarding their story. The email said the department would try to get back to them in 30 business days with a reply.
On Tuesday, however, another email from Immigration arrived, explaining that as the matter was now before the Federal Court, case management was not in a position to discuss the case until the court dealt with it.
But the case is not before the court anymore. The court rejected a request to review it on Dec. 13, without explanation.
The couple’s new immigration lawyer, Hadayt Nazami, who works out of Toronto, can’t believe that Immigration was not aware of the Federal Court’s decision. If it was up to speed, he says, case management officials could end the small family’s ordeal almost immediately.
“Because of the discretionary nature of immigration law, both (Alexander) or the case management board can decide (this matter) by snapping their fingers.”
If it isn’t resolved by the government, Nazami says he will likely need to use the federal Access to Information Act to be able to acquire Immigration’s records before he knows exactly how to proceed.
One possibility to try to get Daksh into the country is with a temporary resident permit, and then working on permanent status once he is here. But a spokeswoman for the department says the parents “can re-apply to sponsor their child for permanent residence and include information to consider on humanitarian and compassionate grounds since the child is ineligible to be sponsored.”
Without knowing the history of the case, that statement appears to be totally contradictory. The couple’s troubles with Immigration started when they failed to disclose they had a young son and their intentions to sponsor him before they left India for Canada in January 2013. Bajaj and Sood applied for permanent residency when Daksh was not yet born. They say they raised their son’s birth with their immigration consultant before they left, but were told to apply to sponsor the child once they arrived here.
Instead, they got a horrible surprise when they landed in Montreal. Not only would they not be able to bring Daksh to Canada once they settled in Ottawa, they were being threatened with immediate deportation unless they signed a document that they would never attempt to sponsor him for permanent residency. They say they signed the document in haste and confusion.
Daksh continues to live with his paternal grandparents in India, and the couple communicates regularly with him through Skype.
“It’s insane, the type of stuff that we see,” Nazami says.
“Children, by law, are considered a priority, (but) you don’t know what kind of decision-maker you get,” says Nazami. “I don’t know if they sit down and really think about these cases when you have kids involved, and exercise positive discretion.
“But at the end of the day, my opinion is all of it is irrelevant because (Daksh) is a child and (Immigration) should have acted quickly (so) they wouldn’t be apart for so long … the child is not to be punished for anybody else’s decision.”
Nazami says he wants to make sure that “every step taken is in the best interest of the child,” adding: “It’s not just the responsibility of the parent. It’s also the responsibility of the government.”