"Where else would you go when you have an ax to grind?"

Monday, October 11, 2010

Welcome to my nightmare

From the Windsor Star we glean another good reason to hope my inlaws don't get sick. Not just because I love them and wish them well, but because going back to care for them could become a major problem.

A Leamington couple who flew to Mexico in June to deal with a personal tragedy have found themselves mired in a new nightmare: the bureaucracy of the Canadian immigration system.
The married couple, Gerhard Wiebe and Maria Eugenia Vazquez Cortes, travelled to Mexico June 1 to arrange family affairs after the death of Cortes' mother in the central Mexican city of Tlaxcala. But when they tried to return to Canada on July 1, Cortes learned she would not be permitted back in.
"They won't let her come back," said Wiebe. "She is stuck down there."

(snippity, snip, snip)

Before they flew to Mexico, Wiebe, 53, said they checked with the immigration ministry to ensure Cortes would be allowed back into Canada.
"They said there's no problem because I have a sponsorship application," Wiebe said. All they would have to do is apply for another visitor's visa from the Canadian embassy in Mexico.
But when they did, it was denied.
Wiebe said the officer at the embassy wasn't convinced that, if Cortes' sponsorship application was rejected in Canada, she would return to her home country.
Now, that application can't even be completed because Cortes isn't on Canadian soil.

Now, I don't know all the exact details of the case, but one would expect that given the couple have been married for a few years already, approval of the application for permanent residence should be a foregone conclusion, assuming the woman doesn't have an extensive criminal record as a drug mule or something.  Apparently, this is not the case. My wife is in the process of applying to become a permanent resident right now and we were told the six month visitor's visa could be renewed repeatedly while the application is being considered (a process that can take longer than a year), so you can see how  this story might make me a bit apprehensive to say the very least.

The question is, given that ministry assured them returning would not be a problem prior to their departure, can the federal immigration service be sued for breach of promise? I doubt it. Immigration officials and Canada Customs officers have a great deal of authority which they can exercise in an arbitrary way and I am not at all confident that the present government is inclined to curb those powers or provide any kind of meaningful oversight. 

My experiences with both services thus far have been terrific and I have no complaints at all. Quite the contrary, the Customs officers who dealt with us and our various baggage and shipped belongings when we moved to Canada this summer were never less than cordial, helpful and efficient. Ditto for the Immigration officer we spoke with at Pearson Airport and the clerk at the citizenship application processing center in Sydney, Nova Scotia, I spoke with on the phone to clarify some detail on my children's applications for proof of Canadian citizenship.

But stories like this one make me nervous and I wonder what can be done for Mr. Wiebe and Ms. Cortes.

(a tip of the toque to CK at Sister Sage's Musings)

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