Stateless Deepan fights government deportation to India

By: MOOJAN HAIDARI

After Deepan Budlakoti served his three years and eight months sentence on drug and weapon related charges, the federal government is trying to deport the Ottawa-born man to a country that he’s never even seen.

Budlakoti, 23, wants the federal government to reinstate his Canadian citizenship and stop pressuring the Indian government to accept him as an Indian citizen.

Deepan Budlakoti searches for public support in his effort to fight government deportation.

Deepan Budlakoti, above, searches for public support in his effort to fight government deportation.

Chris Kealey, assistant director of communications at Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), said via email that Budlakoti was issued a removal order by the Immigration and Refugee Board on December 12, 2011.

“I’m born in Canada and I’ve lived here my whole life. I have every ID any Canadian citizen would have,” Budlakoti said. “Everything has been done legitimately.”

Budlakoti said the government has stripped him of his Canadian citizenship and the Indian government doesn’t accept him as a citizen because his parents never applied for his Indian citizenship.

“I’m stateless,” he said.

In a personal statement on the website Justice for Deepan, Budlakoti wrote he is facing “triple punishment” from the government. He said he already completed his jail sentence, and now he’s forced to live under immigration detention under strict bail conditions and he’s facing deportation for the same convictions.

“Government officials are violating my constitutional rights and violating UN principles,” Budlakoti wrote.

Article 15 of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “everyone has the right to a nationality.”

Alexis Pavlich, spokesman for citizenship and immigration minister Chris Alexander, said via email that Budlakoti was issued a Canadian passport, but the passport application claimed incorrectly that he was a citizen.

Although Budlakoti was born in Canada, he did not automatically become a citizen and no application for citizenship was ever made by him or on his behalf, Pavlich said.

Pavlich explained that the 1977 Citizenship Act excludes all children of foreign diplomats born in Canada from Canadian citizenship unless one of the parents was a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.

Kealey said that legally, the CBSA has no obligation to remove all foreign nationals who’ve had a removal order issued against them but, “everyone ordered removed is entitled to due process before the law and has access to various levels of appeal, including judicial review.”

Several news outlets have stated that Budlakoti’s parents came to Canada as diplomats to the Indian High Commission. However, because of the Citizenship Act rule described above, this makes no difference in his case.

Yet Budlakoti said his parents didn’t work for the Indian High Commission when he was born. This would make his Canadian citizenship valid, he said.

Budlakoti is living under immigration bail conditions, such as abiding to parole conditions and a curfew. He said he recently received his work permit, which was issued within three months, only with “force on the federal government.”

Budlakoti is trying to gather community support through outreach, the group Justice for Deepan, and working with his lawyers to support his case that he is a legal citizen of Canada.

“At the end of the day, all I am asking for is to get my citizenship and to be allowed to live a normal life,” Budlakoti’s statement says.

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