Laibar Singh's sojourn in Canada has taken another twist. The Vancouver Sun reports that Singh's supporters may be backing off on their public pledges to support and care for him as long as he remains in Canada.
Singh's case can be juxtaposed with Piotr Mazur - Mazur was holidaying in Canada with his family when he got into a car accident and was partially paralyzed. Mazur was eventually granted permanent resident status after the then minister of CIC intervened in his case. It would be a legitimate question to ask if there is a double standard. However, as an immigration lawyer, I've come across numerous cases with similar facts but resulting in wildly disparate outcomes. The inconsistency of our immigration system is an unfortunate fact.
Singh had been ordered deported from Canada - despite years of efforts to regularize his status. He orginally arrived on a fake passport from India and claimed refugee status, which was refused by the IRB. Singh later suffered an aneurysm and is now paralyzed, requiring care. While he has won two stays of his planned deportation, Singh's tenure in Canada appears to be coming to an end.
Singh had earlier claimed sanctuary in a Sikh Gurudwara in Abbotsford BC. The concept of sanctuary appears to have been respected by the CBSA, but when Singh was ordered to report to Vancouver's International Airport last week for his removal, approximately 2 thousand (mostly Indo-Canadians) protested resulting in a stand-off.
Sentiments expressed by Mr. Singh’s supporters have ranged from those with genuine concerns for Mr. Singh’s well-being to the ludicrous – Mr. Herb Dhaliwal, former Liberal Cabinet Minister, idiotically compared the situation with the Komagata Maru, where 400 Indians were refused landing and forced back from BC in 1914.
It's true that while Mr. Singh (and all other illegal immigrants) undeniably desire to remain in Canada, what of the rule of law – the Canada Border Services Agency is statutorily bound to enforce removal and deportation orders? The law must be equally applied to all individuals.
Equally true is that Mr. Singh’s situation is truly difficult, however, his claim for protection has been considered and rejected in Canada. As opposed to many countries around the world, he has had many opportunities to test the actions of the federal government in one forum or another. A basic pillar of immigration law is that the state controls the entry and exit of foreign nationals (again, subject to law and principles of fairness). There is no prima facie 'right' to enter Canada (or remain here, in breach of the law).
In my humble opinion: Mr. Singh’s legal fees must be in the tens of thousands. His bond to appear for removal was set (and paid) at $50,000. His hospitalization and removal will cost Canadian tax-payers tens of thousands (and already have cost well over $100,000.00). Notably, the Indo-Canadian community has offered to pay for Mr. Singh’s future care (although there is no mechanism to enforce that pledge given that every resident in Canada has a right to access medical care). Mr. Singhs' supporters do have another option. If they are willing and able to pay for his care in Canada, they are certainly free to raise funds for his hospitalization and medical care in India, which has an extensive (for-profit) medical system, and is more than capable of addressing his present and future needs. Mr. Singh (and his supporters) claim that deportation to India would result in ‘certain death’ given his paralysis is nonsense. India’s “medical tourism” and private health care system likely matches the delivery of health care even here in Canada – at a far lower cost.
The bottom line is that allowing Mr. Singh to remain in breach of the law sends a very bad signal – that the rule of law can be subverted – that those that can muster the support of the mob can determine which laws apply to them, and which laws do not. It is for this reason that Mr. Singh should be removed from Canada.
When asked why such donations could not be used to pay for private health care in India, Mr. Singh's home country, Ms. Walia said his case is a "simple issue of justice and humanity."
"If that argument were to be made that everyone here that's in need of care just raised money and [went] somewhere else, it defies a basic value of human dignity," she said. "His wish is that he feels safe here. He chooses to be with his community here."
With respect, Mr. Singh 'wish' to remain here cannot trump the operation of the law. If it's merely a 'choice' and not an absolute necessity, then there is no justification for Mr. Singh to remain (presumably, in a situation necessarily requiring a foreign national to remain in Canada - such as risk upon return, an argument could be made to stay a removal order).