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Sadly, as reported by Matthew Coutts of the National Post, Mr. Daniel Johnson’s bid for Canadian permanent residence on Humanitarian and Compassionate grounds was dashed when the Federal Court upheld the refusal of his application.
Johnson is former pro basketball player who fled the devastation of Hurricane Katrina for Toronto where he had two Canadian born children. He is a dual American/Israeli citizen and is a black Jew. He tried out for the Toronto Raptors, now coaches youth basketball for the disabled and disadvantage. And he came to Canada not only because of the loss of his home and employment in Louisiana but also to care for his two children after his ex-wife gave up custody.
Sounds like a great case? I would think so. Unfortunately, not so in the eyes of Citizenship and Immigration and the Federal Court.
Humanitarian and Compassionate applications are typically filed by people who do not normally fall under one of the standard but restrictive immigration categories such as the Skilled Worker or Family class. Humanitarian applicants are often undocumented de facto illegals living in Canada who want nothing more than to get their immigration papers and live a normal life. To qualify for permanent residence on humanitarian grounds, applicants have to show that they would suffer undue or unusal hardship in their home country should they be required to return and that they can successfully establish themselves in Canada.
In Mr. Johnson’s case, his long history of volunteerism combined with the loss of livelihood as a victim of a natural disaster was just not enough for Canada immigration to approve his case. Unfortunately, deserving cases like these are all too often refused. Humanitarian applications are highly discretionary and immigration officers are charged with the duty of assessing cases based on broad criteria. This makes the outcome of such cases very unpredictable with sometimes unfair results.
Mr. Johnson has obviously endured a great deal of hardship. There are so many strong elements to his case that I find it unconscionable that he faces removal from Canada. The humanitarian factors in his case are overwhelming: a victim of a natural disaster, Canadian born children, a stellar volunteer, a visible and religious minority. If Mr. Johnson is not deserving of an approval for a Permanent Residence Application on Humanitarian and Compassionate Grounds, then who is? Indeed what does it take?
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