A Nigerian family of five faced deportation from Canada after being denied refugee status on Thursday.
Rasheedat Bakare (wife) and her husband, Afeez, son Faaiq and daughter Faiqah reportedly fled Nigeria and arrived in Canada in 2017. The family’s youngest daughter Farhana was born in Canada in 2018.
The family was informed to leave the country by 3 pm on Friday but Mrs Bakare who is approximately five months pregnant collapsed and was rushed to the hospital.
This prompted the Canadian government to issue a temporary delay on the deportation order.
Their case caught the attention of the African Community Organization of Windsor (ACOW), a group that staged a protest on Friday outside the office of Windsor, a city in southwestern Ontario, Canada.
The president of the group, Claude Saizonou, said they had to protest the family’s deportation because they have been through such situation before.
“We never react. We never say anything,” he said. “And we just have [had] enough of it. We just want to stand up and say ‘If we don’t do it, nobody would do it for us.’ And this family has to stay today.”
Mrs Bakare said her unborn child too would be a girl and according to her, returning to Nigeria exposes her daughters to genital mutilation (circumcision).
“We ran away because they wanted to circumcise my baby girl — the one I brought from Africa. When I got to Canada, I had another baby girl. Currently, I’m pregnant with another baby girl. Now [I’ll have] three baby girls — [and all of their lives are] going to be at risk.” CBC quoted Mrs Bakare to have said.
Mr Bakare said he’s not sure when he and his family will be required to leave.
“I don’t want my life and my family to be in danger,” he said.
“My wife is in a state where she is restless, she cannot do anything.”
Windsor West NDP MP, Brian Masse, described the action of the Canadian government as “heavy-handed,” adding that it was even logistically difficult for the Nigerian family to comply with the deportation order in the first place, simply because of how little time was given.
At the same time, Masse pointed out the third child of the family, Farhana, who was born in Canada in 2018, is a naturalized citizen, complicating matters further.
An immigration consultant, Marwan Zarif who spoke to CBC noted that the family has a few options to appeal their deportation.
Their first option is to file for a pre-removal risk assessment.
“The problem with this pre-removal risk assessment is that immigration has to send you a form to fill,” said Zarif. “You can’t just apply for it.”
In effect, the risk assessment allows the federal government to determine the overall risk of persecution by returning to a country.
Zarif said there are some drawbacks associated with the pre-removal risk assessment, namely that potential applicants need to wait at least one year before they can submit a form.
A second option is to apply to the refugee appeal division part of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada.
However, Zarif said the appeal division “hasn’t been very active.”
“The immigration board hasn’t been listening to a lot of cases,” he said. “Unfortunately, this is how it is.”
If a refugee appeal is denied, Zarif said the Federal Court of Canada is also a means of recourse.