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Family of asylum-seekers claims discrimination as they fight to stay in Canada


A family who fled Egypt over fears of persecution for the father’s political activism is fighting for the right to remain in Canada.

A member of the Freedom and Justice Party during the Arab Spring in 2011, Attia Elserafy said he feared for his safety after a military coup deposed President Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

The family of seven went to Turkey before Elserafy, his wife and three of their children came to Canada, where they made refugee claims.

Two adult sons remain in Turkey.

Elserafy says the refugee application process has stalled because a report from an officer with Canada Border Services Agency pointed out links between the Freedom and Justice Party and Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood.

Neither group appears on Canada’s list of terrorist entities.

Speaking through a translator, Elserafy accused the Vancouver-based CBSA officer of discrimination and Islamophobia.

“It is one officer, along with his group, that is targeting us, along with a few other families,” he said.

The CBSA says privacy reasons prevent it from discussing specific cases, but stressed there are multiple officials at many levels involved in decisions regarding admissibility.

It adds asylum-seekers unhappy with a decision can seek leave to appeal to the Federal Court of Canada.

"Allegations of improper behaviour by CBSA employees are taken very seriously,” the CBSA said in a statement. “When we receive a complaint, the CBSA reviews all allegations of inappropriate behaviour and, if warranted, will take the necessary actions called for.”

The Canadian Council for Refugees takes issue with that position, saying that, as a law enforcement agency, the CBSA should not be allowed to investigate itself.

"There is no independent complaint mechanism over the Canada Border Services Agency. This is a longstanding concern that has been raised by our organization and many others,” said executive director Janet Dench.

According to Dench, the federal Liberals twice tried to pass legislation in recent years to establish independent oversight for the CBSA, but the bills died in the House of Commons both times.

In the meantime, Elserafy and his family continue their fight to stay in Canada and avoid an uncertain fate back in Egypt. Top Stories

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