‘We’re being handled like trash’: Afghan-Canadians sue Ottawa, declare immigration guidelines are discriminatory

OTTAWA — Afghan-Canadians who labored for the Canadian navy in Afghanistan are asking the Federal Court docket to declare a particular immigration program for Ukrainians in breach of the Constitution of Rights and Freedoms and broaden it to incorporate nationals from all nations.

Two Afghan-Canadian males filed the lawsuit this week in a transfer they are saying may be the final step left in a protracted battle by former language and cultural advisers to rescue their households from overseas.

“We’re proud Canadians, we’re happy with what we did for Canada and now we’re being handled like trash,” stated one of many males, who’s known as “John Doe 1” within the lawsuit and who solely spoke to the Star on the situation he not be named to guard his household.

Their software argues the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Journey (CUAET) program is discriminatory as a result of its wide-ranging provisions solely apply to Ukrainians, versus all these fleeing battle.

This system additionally discriminates primarily based on race, the lawsuit says.

“Ukrainians are predominantly white and European. Afghans are predominantly dark-skinned and Muslim. Thus, the CUAET has the impact of distinguishing primarily based on race, color, ethnic origin and faith, that are prohibited grounds underneath s. 15 of the Constitution,” reads the appliance, which was obtained by the Star on Friday.

The lads are asking for the courtroom to declare this system in breach of the Constitution, and order it utilized to all international nationals.

Their software to Federal Court docket comes almost six months after two different advisers settled a human rights complaint with the federal government over the actual fact they’d initially been fully shut out of immigration packages for Afghans arrange within the wake of that nation’s collapse to the Taliban in 2021.

Language and cultural advisers, referred to as LCAs, had been recruited by the Canadian Armed Forces in Canada and deployed with troopers to assist them navigate the unfamiliar cultural terrain throughout Canada’s involvement within the battle.

Not like interpreters, who had been employed by the navy on contract by way of multinational companies, LCAs had been akin to serving members of the navy, sporting uniforms and given high-level safety clearances to hold out their work.

Round 45 of them labored with the CAF over the course of the mission; John Doe 1 was in one of many final deployments to Kandahar earlier than Canada’s fight mission led to 2011.

When the Taliban took management of Afghanistan in 2021, Ottawa discovered itself dashing to seek out methods to rescue Afghans who’d labored alongside Canadian forces there.

Finally, Canada pledged to resettle 40,000 Afghans by the top of this yr, together with former interpreters, human rights activists and members of non secular minority teams.

However LCAs had been informed that they had to make use of conventional financial or household sponsorship packages to get members of the family in Afghanistan to Canada.

The settlement of the human rights criticism compelled Ottawa to broaden its current Afghan settlement coverage to cowl kin of LCAs as nicely.

The lawsuit argues that program is just too restricted in scope in comparison with the one Canada put in place for Ukrainians.

The CUAET was one of many authorities’s responses to calls for final yr that Canada provide protected haven to Ukrainians following Russia’s invasion of their nation.

It presents Ukrainians and their members of the family — even when they aren’t Ukrainian — prolonged short-term immigration standing in Canada, and with it the power to work and go to high school right here.

There isn’t a cap on the variety of functions underneath this system, most of the charges are waived and there’s expedited processing of types.

The coverage for LCAs requires candidates to have been in Afghanistan on or after July 22, 2021 and meet a particular definition of member of the family. A most of 380 functions are being accepted.

The lawsuit argues that if the LCAs had been Ukrainian, they’d don’t have any drawback bringing their at present excluded members of the family to Canada.

For “John Doe 2,” whose sister could be eligible to come back to Canada underneath the present program for LCA however gained’t as a result of she couldn’t carry her grownup youngsters, the lawsuit felt like the ultimate possibility.

“Now we have knocked on all people’s door,” he stated, “they usually ignored us.”

The federal authorities didn’t reply to a request for remark from the Star on Friday afternoon.

In its response to the human rights tribunal criticism earlier this yr, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada argued the Afghans had no grounds to assert discrimination on the premise of nationwide origin.

Individuals who aren’t Ukrainian don’t have entry to the precise Ukrainian program, IRCC wrote on the time, and all packages can’t be open to everybody.

“If that had been the case, IRCC could be unable to reply in a focused facilitative method to any humanitarian disaster with out responding equally and concurrently to all humanitarian crises,” it stated.

Canada has dedicated to resettling 40,000 Afghans by the top of the yr by way of packages launched in 2021; thus far, about 32,000 have arrived.

These numbers are chilly consolation to the lads who’re suing Ottawa. As Canadians, they are saying they don’t perceive why they will’t carry members of the family right here from overseas the way in which others can.

“We’re Canadian residents,” stated John Doe 1. “We had been on the entrance traces as Canadian residents, and now they simply don’t care about us.”


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