Refugee in limbo, protected and inadmissible at same time

posted on October 15, 2014

By Nicholas Keung, the Star | Link to Article

As a “protected person,” Kogularamanan Arulanantham cannot be removed from Canada to Sri Lanka.

By Nicholas Keung, the Star | Link to Article

As a “protected person,” Kogularamanan Arulanantham cannot be removed from Canada to Sri Lanka.

As someone deemed “inadmissible” to Canada as an alleged member of the Tamil Tigers, the Brampton man cannot become a permanent resident and must renew his temporary permit to remain here every year – unless he is granted a reprieve from Public Safety Minister Steve Blaney.

Border officials’ broad definition of membership means a person can be considered a member of a banned terrorist group by simply donating money to the organization or being loosely associated with its members.

In his case, Arulanantham said he was coerced into working as a bookkeeper at a jewelry shop in Vanni, called Thamil Mathy Jewellers, run by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, in order to avoid forced conscription to fight for the group. He worked there from 2002 to 2004.

“My parents had to pay money to the LTTE in order to avoid my brothers and myself being forcibly recruited to the LTTE,” said Arulanantham, now 33. “I was selected for the job at the jewelry store. By working at an LTTE run business, I would be safe from other kinds of LTTE threats.”

In 2005, with the help of an uncle, Arulanantham arrived in Toronto via Malaysia to seek asylum. He was granted refugee status in Canada the following year.

He immediately applied for permanent resident, but it wasn’t until 2010 when the Canada Border Services Agency told him he was inadmissible to Canada because of his employment at the jewelry store. He subsequently sought the minister’s relief.

Anyone found inadmissible to Canada on the grounds of security, international or human rights violations, or organized criminality must apply for the exemption.

“Ministerial relief is an exceptional measure, and the onus is not on the Canada Border Services Agency or the Minister, but rather on the individual, to provide information or arguments that satisfy the minister that it would not be contrary to the national interest to grant the relief sought,” said CBSA spokesperson Line Guibert-Wolff.

“In making this decision, the minister’s main considerations are national security and public safety. The minister is the sole decision-maker on these files.”

According to the border agency, there were 290 such requests pending as of the end of September, all are processed in accordance with their date of receipt unless there are special circumstances such as a court order to expedite a case.

Arulanantham’s lawyer Micheal Crane said Canadian officials’ broad-brushing catch-all approach often associates Tamils to the LTTE, Eritreans to the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) or Pakistanis to the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM).

“It just slows down these cases at some level due to the association, but it is still not acceptable that it’s taking four, five years for a decision,” said Crane.

“There is always a perception that the government is making these steps so slow so the person would go away. There is not a lot of transparency.”

The CBSA’s Guibert-Wolff said the process takes time because of the complexity of these cases.

“Ministerial relief decisions are complex and require careful consideration of large amounts of submissions from applicants. The purpose is to assess whether there are sufficient grounds for the minister to exempt the individual,” she said.

For now, Arulanantham can only wait and continue a life in limbo. He is not eligible to sponsor to Canada any of his loved ones, including his wife, Praya, whom he has only seen twice, in Malaysia, because he’s too afraid to step on the soil of his homeland.

“I’ve respected the law of this country. The only thing I’m asking for is to let me be with my wife,” said Arulanantham, who works two jobs at a factory and a restaurant. “I can’t wait forever.”

Read more