Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Help Santa Claus Reunite 4-Year-old Daksh Sood with his Ottawa Parents

Help Santa Claus Reunite 4-Year-old Daksh Sood with his Ottawa Parents


This holiday season, please help one Ottawa couple who have been struggling for three years to be reunited with their now 4-year-old boy, Daksh Sood. Under the Harper government, Daksh, then aged 1, was barred from Canada because of a simple, honest paperwork error. The Canadian visa office in India has twice refused to handle the case for ridiculous reasons (including a suggestion that Daksh, at 4 years old, apply to come here as a skilled worker!) Media stories on the case are listed at the bottom of this email.

The new Liberal government has promised to make family reunification a priority. This case is as good a place to start as any. Depriving a young boy of his parents goes against the stated purposes of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Daksh's parents, Bhavna Bajaj and Aman Sood, are hoping for the kind of Christmas present that not even Santa Claus can deliver: a temporary resident permit (TRP) to be issued to Daksh no later than December 26. (Right now, Daksh's father, Aman, is in India until that date, and hoping that when he returns, Daksh will be with him.)

1. Sign and share on facebook and twitter the petition at

2. Email Immigration Minister John McCallum and Parliamentary Secretary Arif Virani, as well as Prime Minister Trudeau  at, and cc asking that they grant a temporary resident permit (TRP) for 4-year-old Daksh Sood no later than December 26. Explain that Daksh's father has been visiting this month, and is ready to bring him home. Explain why this is just the right thing to do.

3. Call Immigration Minister John McCallum's office at 613-996-3374 and Parliamentary Secrtary Arif Virani at 613-992-2936 and tell them that you are requesting that the Minister issue a special Christmas present: a temporary resident permit (TRP) for Daksh Sood. Please be polite as staff there are very nice. Please let us know at what the reaction has been.

4. If you are in Ottawa, join Santa Claus and the elves on Tuesday, December 22 at 11:45 am at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's office at Elgin and Wellington as they deliver over 11,000 signatures on petitions calling for Daksh Sood to be brought to Canada.

I have known and worked with this hard-working Ottawa couple for a year, and can speak directly to the sadness and emptiness they carry with them: all of their dreams are based on a life together in Canada, and that dream will not be fulfilled until their son is reunited with them in Ottawa.

Thanks for your help!

Matthew Behrens
The Rural Refugee Rights Network

More at: <


Friday, April 24, 2015

We are also responsible for the tragic deaths of refugees in the Mediterranean

A recent Op Ed submitted by Toronto refugee lawyers Geraldine Sadoway and Andrew Brouwer:

We Canadians like to think of ourselves as generous and humanitarian, complying with our obligations and commitments under international law to protect refugees. In 1986, the Canadian people were awarded the Nansen medal for our assistance to refugees – the only time the medal has been awarded to an entire people. Yet even as we were opening our hearts and homes to the Vietnamese and Cambodian “boat people” following the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, our government was looking for ways to keep refugees from reaching Canada. For example in 1979 Canada imposed a visa requirement for Chile to ensure that the steady stream of refugees from Pinochet’s dictatorship would be cut off.

Quietly and systematically, in collaboration with European, Australian and U.S. allies, Canada has been closing every possible avenue of access for refugees. By doing so, we drive them into the hands of smugglers who are reaping profits at the expense of the lives of desperate people.

When we learn of the origin of the latest drowning victims, it is clear that they are refugees. They are Syrians, Iraqis, Somalis, Afghans, Eritreans, Libyans – fleeing from the horrific civil strife and brutal repression in their homelands. If they reached our refugee hearing rooms, most would be recognized as refugees and granted protection. And for that very reason, the federal government’s focus has been on keeping people from getting here in the first place.

How is it done?
  •  By imposing a visa requirement on anyone coming from a country that has any situation of civil unrest or human rights violations and then refusing to issue visas: this forces refugee claimants into the hands of smugglers who transport them by “irregular means” and may furnish them with fake visas
  •  By enlisting the aid of carriers – airlines and shipping lines - training them how to spot false documentation and fining them very heavily for permitting passengers to travel without satisfactory documentation, regardless of whether they are fleeing for their lives 
  • By “pushing the border out” through the multiple border strategy – ensuring that there are at least seven different border control points before a refugee reaches Canada
  • By closing our only land border so that refugees travelling via the United States are ineligible to seek refugee status in Canada – the so-called “Safe Third Country Agreement
  • By changing the laws against smuggling so that they include people who assist refugees to reach Canada for purely humanitarian reasons - so the only option for the refugee is to go with the mercenary smugglers
  • By severely penalizing refugees who come by “irregular means” – imprisoning them and denying them the opportunity to bring their family to Canada even if they are granted protection.
In 1951, after the Second World War, the countries of the United Nations adopted the Refugee Convention, recognizing the right of every person to seek refuge from persecution and the obligation of all countries to share in providing protection for refugees. We pledged that “never again” would we be responsible for closing our doors to the desperate and the persecuted, sending people to their deaths or leaving them to perish, as we had done before and during the Second World War. But these methods of interdiction, preventing refugees from reaching our border, violate the spirit and the purpose of that Convention.

We have become a part of “Fortress Europe” and we share Europe’s responsibility for the increasing reliance of refugees on smugglers to reach countries of refuge, and the human tragedies that are happening in the Mediterranean “moat” around Fortress Europe.

To ease the pressure of the current emergency situation, we must respond positively to the urgent call by UN Special Rapporteur Francois Crépeau to join with the countries of Europe in a comprehensive plan to take one million refugees from Syria over the next five years. And we must re-think our refugee-interdiction policies and develop safe, fast, and legal ways for refugees and their families to secure protection in Canada.
Geraldine Sadoway and Andrew Brouwer, Refugee Lawyers, Toronto

Monday, January 26, 2015

Canada Bars 3-year-old from living in Canada with his parents: Sign petition!

(Please share and forward widely, thanks!)


The Government of Canada has been clear: 3-year-old Daksh can never live in Canada with his parents.

We disagree. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child disagrees. Canada's own immigration law disagrees.

We hope you do too.

Over the holiday season, we met with an Ottawa couple who were heartbroken that they could not be with their 3.5-year-old son Daksh. The Canadian government has told his parents, Bhavna and Aman, that Daksh can never come to Canada.  He has been separated from them and forced to live in India because of human error and apparently inflexible governmental reading of immigration regulations that could be remedied with the stroke of the Immigration Minister's pen. You may be familiar with the Ottawa Citizen story on the case at

You can help reunite Daksh with his family be signing this online petition:

Chris Alexander, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, declared on February 3, 2014,  "Our government understands the importance of spending time with family and loved ones and we committed to improving the immigration system so that families can be reunited more quickly."  He reiterated this point on December 19, 2014 by saying "Canada has  one of the most generous family reunification programs in the world and we are taking action to reduce backlogs and improve processing times—so that families are reunited with their loved ones more quickly.”
Family reunification is a primary objective of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and a noble goal, but unfortunately, that spirit of generosity has not extended to the hard-working Ottawa couple Bhavna Bajaj and Aman Sood, permanent residents who have been told by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), that they can never bring their 3-1/2-year-old son, Daksh, to Canada to live with them. The reason for this conclusion is simple: having received poor advice from an immigration consultant, they did not fill in the proper paperwork when they originally came to Canada as skilled workers in 2013. It was a simple, honest mistake, for which they have been punished for over two years by not being allowed to raise their baby boy here in Canada.

Aman Sood and his son, Daksh (above) and Aman, Daksh, and Bhavna Bajaj. The Ottawa couple  hope pictures like these will soon be taken again and that Canada will overturn the decision to bar their 3-year-old son from joining them in Ottawa, Canada.

Human beings make errors, honest mistakes, and people should not be punished for them, especially when no harm was intended or done, and one of the individuals concerned is so young and needs to be with his parents. We know that even Immigration Canada makes mistakes. Indeed, the Toronto Star reported on January 5, 2015 that "CIC employees often fail to use correct form letters or provide accurate timelines," errors which "could not only cost individual applicants a chance to live and work in Canada but affect the efficiency of the system and create unnecessary backlogs."

Bhavna and Aman cry every night for missing their son Daksh during some of his most important formative years. They do not seek to deceive or cheat the immigration system, and it's been very difficult for them to go public about their private lives, but it is something they are willing to do in order to reunite their family and to enjoy the embrace of their little boy in their Ottawa home.

Please sign the petition at urging that Chris Alexander exercise his discretionary power under section 25 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to allow Daksh to be reunited with his parents in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

Please share this appeal widely on email, on facebook and other media platforms you may have access to.

Thank you!

Rural Refugee Rights Network
(613) 267-3998,

"The child, for the full and harmonious development of his or her personality, should grow up in a family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding." – UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

"Applications by a child or his or her parents to enter or leave a State Party for the purpose of family reunification shall be dealt with by States Parties in a positive, humane and expeditious manner." – UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

"to see that families are reunited in Canada" (3d) Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, Canada, under "Objectives" of the Act

"Childhood is entitled to special care and assistance”, Universal Declaration of Human Rights