Sabreena Shabdeen, a 17-year-old girl with severe autism who was born in Canada, was set to be deported from the United States on January 3rd to her family’s native Sri Lanka, leaving her family with a choice: return her to Canada, alone, where she was born and without support – or bring her to Sri Lanka, a country she has never known with nowhere near the advanced capabilities in treating autism exist as they do in Canada. There is also the possibility she won’t be allowed in Sri Lanka due to her disability.
In 1992, the Shabdeen family filed refugee claims in Canada upon arriving there from Sri Lanka. Sabreena was born between their arrival and their leaving, which they did in 1998 when their refugee claim was denied. They went to the United States.
The United States has scheduled them for imminent deportation in early January, while Canada has denied the parents entry. Two agencies in Canada have expressed interest in evaluating Sabreena to see if there was a way they could find a placement for her, but her parents’ temporary resident permits to accompany her to Canada were denied because there was not enough evidence the parents would leave the country.
Another serious problem for the family is that while the parents are Sri Lankan, Sabreena is a foreign national with what is considered a severe disability – there is a possibility that the Sri Lankan government will not allow her to live as a permanent resident in Sri Lanka either.
Unfortunately, there has been no update in the news media on this case since December 29th. It has not been made public whether the family has been able to obtain a stay of deportation or if they have been deported.
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