A transgender teen from Ireland who had been facing removal from Canada due to an immigration error made by his family has won a short stay in his case — he can apply for a risk assessment to explain the family’s concerns he could face discrimination, bullying or violence in his home country.
Adam Tyrrell Haslam’s small victory comes after the 19-year-old’s family began a legal fight in September to try to stop Canada from deporting the young man.
Adam had been facing removal after the Irish family, while seeking assistance at the border with their passports, permanent residency paperwork and visas that had expired by one day, made a wrong turn and crossed into the U.S. — a mishap that led to orders that they leave Canada.
For the past 21 months, they’ve been trapped in immigration limbo, unable to work or go to school. But the other four family members had been given the opportunity to fill out a pre-removal risk assessment, a document that allows them to make a case to stay in the country.
It wasn’t until Friday, a day after the family spoke to CBC, that Adam’s parents received an email from the manager of intelligence and enforcement operations division for Canada Border Services Agency’s (CBSA) pacific division.
In it, was an invitation to fill out an attached pre-removal risk assessment. It also explained that anyone ordered to leave Canada at a point of entry or border did not need to be notified they are eligible for a risk assessment — an issue that had caused confusion for the family as to why only four of them were given the opportunity initially.
That said, John Haslam says he’s relieved his son can now make a case to stay for his safety, but he’s not sure how long it will take before the application is processed and a decision about the entire family’s future is made.
“I felt excited but worried at the same time,” Haslam told CBC in a phone interview on Tuesday night.
“They’re offering us an opportunity. It’s still not a guarantee. I mean, there’s still the chance they will remove us from the country. And it’s quite scary.”
Padraig Mac Roibeaird, who acted as a legal agent for the family, says they will now drop their civil case.
“We got what we were asking for. I was surprised at the speed at which it came through,” said Mac Roibeaird. For that speed he credits CBC’s story last week.
But he also believes this stops details from emerging.
“Something bad happened at the border, and they did not want to have to go through the discovery process,” he said.
Zool Suleman, an immigration lawyer who did not represent the family but did review the case for CBC, says Adam will likely not face removal until the process is over, which could take weeks or months.
“[Immediate removal] now is unlikely, partly because of the work [CBC] has been doing. The moment somebody like you reports, then people get very sensitive about the process,” Suleman said. “Attention on this in the media is going to make them absolutely careful on how they deal with it.”
‘5 steps backward’
Adam says he’s eager to fill out the risk review application, hoping it will make it possible for him to return to building a life here.
“I’m thankful for the opportunity to be able to stay [for now]. But as my dad said, it’s not really a guarantee that we’re going to stay here,” Adam said in a phone interview from Vernon, B.C.
If after a hearing, Adam is ordered to leave Canada, he says he’ll feel lost.
“I really don’t know what I’d do,” he said. “I have pretty much everything planned for this to go right and if it doesn’t, it’s just like five steps backwards.”
The family filed a civil lawsuit against the Attorney General of Canada last September arguing that Adam faced discrimination, bullying and stigma back in Ireland — and they’ve been trying to become permanent residents of Canada since 2013. They are looking to make a life in Canada for economic and safety reasons, saying it’s a better environment for Adam, their eldest son, who transitioned as a teen.
In recent years, hate crime targeting the LGBT community has been on the rise in Ireland, so much so that in October Ireland’s Minister for Justice Helen McEntee introduced new legislation that criminalizes the incitement of acts of hate against transgender people and others.
Low approval rates
Although Adam will be able to outline the risks to him in returning to Ireland, Suleman says these risk assessment hearings are a long shot.
Criteria are strict and the success rate of such a hearing is low; between five and seven per cent of claims are approved, he says.
“A risk assessment is not a refugee claim,” Suleman said. “They need to be more specific.”
A pre-removal risk assessment gives those facing a deportation or other removal order the chance to outline the risk they would face if they were returned to their home country. If the application is approved, then they may stay in Canada. Applications are assessed based on whether the applicant could face a danger, torture, a risk of death or cruel and unusual punishment, according to the federal criteria.
Applicants can also argue to stay if there is a well-founded fear of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion or being part of a particular social group.
But upon rejection, removal is swift and restarting a permanent residency application is very difficult, Suleman said.
“Their ability to restart the irregular immigration process is exceedingly low. Once you’re on the enforcement track, there’s a very high chance that they will be asked to leave Canada,” he said.
Requests for interviews from CBSA and Immigration Canada were declined, despite the family signing consent agreements to deal with privacy concerns.
CBSA said in an email that the decision to remove people from Canada is “not taken lightly,” adding that the pre-removal risk assessment applications act as a stay of removal until Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada makes a final decision.
Stuck in limbo
The family, who are restricted from working or studying, have been living in a hotel for 15 months with help from charities as they are barred from working or going to school in Canada. Haslam said Adam and his two younger brothers spend their days at the library or tobogganing behind the hotel.
Adam says he’s looking forward to the holidays, watching the movie Elf with his family and he hopes Christmas dinner will be chicken.
“We’ve got a little tree and just waiting for Christmas — it’s all we can do,” his father said.
www.cbc.ca 2022-12-07 20:11:17