They came to Canada, were in child protection, but never got legal immigration status. Now advocates are speaking up

Failure by governments on a number of levels:

Raised by his great-grandmother in the Dominican Republic, Fili has few memories of his parents or his sister and two brothers, who were both murdered.

When his only caregiver died, the young boy, then about 10, moved in with friends he met on the streets and started catching fish and unloading cargo at a shipping port to provide for himself.

As a young teen, he was shot in the leg once while caught in a crossfire between local gangs, and made attempts to flee the country by sea before he and a friend successfully swam aboard an Egyptian ship. They left behind a life of street violence for an unknown journey that would lead to the harbour of Quebec City in 2002.

The 14-year-old became a Crown ward, but that only marked the beginning of a two-decade battle for the stowaway, an unaccompanied minor, to gain permanent residence in Canada while being bounced from foster home to foster home.

After aging out of the child welfare system, still without proper immigration status, he had run-ins with the law and was slated for deportation to a country he barely remembered.

“This is my country, my home,” said Fili, now 35, who asked that his real name not be published because he is still in immigration limbo.

Fili’s case, said his lawyer Erin Simpson, highlights the failure of child welfare agencies to address the unresolved immigration status of Crown wards in their care.

It also casts a spotlight on the racism inherent in the justice system and in immigration enforcement, Simpson said.

Source: They came to Canada, were in child protection, but never got legal immigration status. Now advocates are speaking up

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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