Canadian’s forced statelessness an affront to human rights


Photo courtesy of Stacy Douglas

Deepan Budlakoti was born in Ottawa in 1989. His parents emigrated from India, and received permanent residency status followed by Canadian citizenship and passports. He also received a passport stating that his nationality was Canadian.

After running into problems in his youth, in December 2009 Deepan was convicted to four months for break and entry. In May 2010 officials told him he was no longer a citizen.

This brief rundown details how Budlakoti’s troubles began, how he came to be in the limbo of statelessness. Knowing no other home than Canada, he is currently struggling against being deported— but to where? India will not issue any travel documents for him. If anything, his story is one of the dystopic reality of nationalistic border control.

It also identifies as a story of racism, as during his incarceration, Budlakoti has stated that he had a big beard that made him appear Muslim.

“I am suffering double, if not triple, punishment for my crime,” says Budlakoti’s online statement, “I now face deportation, and this could go on for years, since at this time I have no status and no nationality anywhere. At the same time, because of my citizenship status, I don’t have access to heath care services.”

But how does the Immigration Board of Canada support themselves in this flagrant move against human rights? They say his parents worked for the Ambassador of India at the time he was born, which under Canadian law does not ensure a child’s right to Canadian nationality at birth. They say his passport was issued in error.

“I don’t know how they can say that since it is stated in the Passport Act that only a person who is Canadian can be issued a passport. Each passport goes through several different departments before it is signed and issued. There is nothing in the the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act or Canadian Passport Order that says the government can take away a passport issued in error. In fact, nowhere in the Order does it say that they can take away a passport in my situation.

“My parents did not work for the Indian High Commission when I was born. At that time, they worked for a doctor in Canada who has stated, under oath in court, that they worked for him at that time. However, the Canadian government refuses to accept this and other evidence we provided in order to prove it.”

What is the Canadian government doing? The fact that the government began working toward revoking Budlakoti’s Canadian citizenship and deporting him right on the tail of his incarceration seems a clear causal link.

That officials will racially profile an individual and dig into their past to punish them further is against any sense of human rights.

When I told a friend hoping to get Canadian citizenship in the near future Budlakoti’s story, she became terrified.

It is perverse that the law can be twisted to deport an immigrant’s child. And certainly it won’t be white children deported— the racial component to how Canadians view immigrants is disgusting. ‘Stealing our jobs’ has become the chant of the prejudiced, and yet Statistics Canada showed that 31% of immigrants with a university degree work low-skill level jobs.

We in Canada like to tout ourselves as a multicultural mosaic, a place where diverse persons and peoples can meet with some kind of equal footing. And yet racial prejudice in Canada is thriving. Most know that our own community in Peterborough has the highest hate crime rate in Canada as of police reporting in 2011 — and that it’s based on police reports says a lot too.

Instead of throwing immigrants and the children of immigrants under the bus, we need to press for reassessment of the immigration and deportation systems in Canada.

We cannot let what has happened to Deepan Budlakoti set a precedent in Canada. We need to cultivate respect for our neighbours.

About Simon Semchuk 51 Articles
Simon Semchuk writes primarily on the arts and queer issues. A third-year English major, he is also interested in theatre, literature, and fluffy animals.