CBSA deports asylum-seeker dealing with high-risk pregnancy in Vancouver hospital
Published Friday, November 20, 2015 7:55PM PST
Last Updated Saturday, November 21, 2015 2:36PM PST
Update: The Canadian Border Services Agency has deported an Afghan asylum seeker who was being treated for a high-risk pregnancy at a Vancouver hospital.
Agents escorted Freshta Hashim out of BC Women’s Hospital shortly after 8 p.m. Friday and into an ambulance, which was to transport her back to the U.S.
A family member told CTV News Hashim is being taken to a university hospital in Washington State. The rest of her family is facing deportation on Sunday.
Immigration experts say the deportation plan is legal, but in exceptional cases plans could change.
"CBSA and CIC together could issue her a temporary resident permit to allow her to stay here, to access medical care and to file a refugee claim in due course," said immigration lawyer Laura Best.
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An Afghan woman who is seeking asylum in Canada – and coping with a high-risk pregnancy in Vancouver – has been told she’ll soon be removed from hospital and deported.
Freshta Hashim told CTV News her family wants to avoid returning to Afghanistan because they fear the wrath of Taliban relatives, who were angered by her marriage to her husband.
Before they left the country, she said they received a letter making that threat explicit.
“They said that you guys went against our decisions… we are going to catch you guys and we are going to kill all of the family,” Hashim said.
Hashim, who is seven months pregnant, first tried taking her children and her husband’s parents to claim refugee status in the U.S., where her brother-in-law lives, but couldn’t afford the legal fees.
They decided to try Canada instead after learning the country had a reputation for compassion.
“We heard that… they have refugee lawyers, immigration lawyers, that fight for free,” she said.
Hashim also has a second-cousin in Metro Vancouver whom they could live with – but as they were being questioned at the border, Hashim’s pregnancy took an unexpected turn.
She was rushed to a Vancouver hospital on Monday, where doctors told her she’d lost a lot of amniotic fluid and will need rest, medical monitoring, and – potentially within a couple weeks – a caesarian section.
Unfortunately for her, the Canadian Border Services Agency has since informed her she’s facing imminent deportation.
Immigration experts told CTV News the issue involves the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement, which states that refugee claimants must apply in the first safe country they arrive in.
“They have to claim in the first country where they landed,” immigration lawyer Laura Best said.
Though the CBSA’s deportation plan is legal, Best said there is room to make exceptions in special cases.
Best said the CBSA and Citizenship and Immigration Canada together could issue Hashim a temporary resident permit that would “allow her to stay here, to access medical care, and to file a refugee claim in due course.”
“The purpose of a temporary resident permit is to overcome inadmissibilities, to allow people to stay in Canada not withstanding the fact that they might not meet the strict requirements of the law,” Best said.
Hashim said she knows she’s asking officials to bend the rules, but pleaded that they make an exception for the sake of her children.
“My children, they should be safe, they should be educated, they should live like other kids that are living normally,” she said. “It’s my only wish for them.”
If her new child is born before Hashim is deported, she would be eligible to apply for refugee status.
The CBSA would not speak about the case Friday, and instead asked that CTV News delay the story. The agency would not explain the reason for the request.
With a report from CTV Vancouver’s Penny Daflos