Will the 'star whackers' claim work?
Actor Randy Quaid's claim that he and his wife need Canada's protection from ‘Hollywood star whackers' may sound ludicrous, but will it allow them to stay in B.C. as refugee claimants? Immigration lawyer Richard Kurland tells CTV News what to expect.
The couple made the verbal plea at a Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board hearing on Friday in Vancouver, piquing curiosity about who, or what, ‘star whackers' refers to.
Evi Quaid, 47, told reporters that "Hollywood is murdering its movie stars for ad sales" and that Heath Ledger was among the victims.
Sixty-year-old Randy then denied the couple had drug or alcohol problems. Asked whether he really wanted refugee status, he replied that "Canada is a very protective nation."
But immigration lawyer Richard Kurland says there are limits, and he doubts the claim will pay off for the couple.
"Statistically you have a better chance of being hit by a meteor than see a profile like this from the United States succeed in a refugee claim," he said.
The fact that the Quaids are both American fugitives doesn't help either. A judge in Santa Barbara issued $50,000 bench warrants for the couple earlier this week after they skipped an arraignment hearing in their felony burglary case.
"Serious criminality is not an open door to Canada's refugee process," Kurland said.
They are accused of squatting in the guest house of a Montecito Home they once owned together and causing more than $10,000 damage. Evi was also charged with resisting arrest.
Canada Border Services Agency officers arrested them in Vancouver on Thursday afternoon.
If the couple is allowed to access the refugee system, Kurland says the process will take a minimum of one to two years. During that period, they will have access to Canadian benefits, including work permits, medical care and welfare.
The Quaids were released on $10,000 bail each. Their next hearing is on Thursday, at which point they'll have to discredit the California charges and prove fear of prosecution back home – or their stay in Canada will be brief.
"It can literally mean from the hearing room to the back of an immigration truck and a one-way ride to the U.S. border, where you're dropped to … American law enforcement officials on the spot," Kurland said.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Shannon Paterson