Friday, December 14, 2007


Visalaw International Canadian lawyer Sergio R. Karas has been quoted in today's Globe and Mail national newspaper story about an important current immigration case. Here is the story and link:


Border agents seek refugee at wrong temple

ALLISON CROSSDecember 14, 2007

VANCOUVER -- Representatives of the Canadian Border Services Agency yesterday visited the Sikh temple in Abbotsford where a paraplegic refugee claimant took sanctuary in June, says one of his supporters, but were informed Laibar Singh was no longer staying there."They visited to find out how he was," said Harsha Walia, a refugee advocate from No One is Illegal. "But it wasn't really clear what they wanted."Ms. Walia said representatives were told Mr. Singh is at the Khalsa Diwan Society Gurdwara in New Westminster, a detail widely reported in the media since Monday.His supporters say he has not claimed formal sanctuary there.Derek Mellon, spokesman for the border services agency, said he could not confirm or deny whether representatives tried to visit Mr. Singh.Mr. Singh's deportation to India was delayed on Monday after thousands of Indo-Canadians surrounded his taxi at Vancouver International Airport and blocked the path to the terminal. Canadian Border Services Agency officials told protesters they wouldn't part the crowd to get Mr. Singh in case protesters got violent.Mr. Singh's lawyer, Zool Suleman, reached in Istanbul, said he would not comment on the status of the case.Sergio Karas, a citizenship and immigration lawyer in Toronto, said he is concerned that a mob of people managed to impede the execution of Canadian law."I'm not defending the system in any way, shape or form," he said. "They have many flaws. But the fact is, if this becomes an example, what kind of country are we going to develop into? Are we ruled by laws or by mobs?"Mr. Karas said taking sanctuary in a church or temple doesn't afford someone special rights, but it is highly unlikely the government will enter a place of worship by force.He said he is worried that those who commit serious crimes might seek similar sanctuary.Ms. Walia said Mr. Karas's concerns are not valid."I actually think it's problematic to say it's a precedent, because the only way laws are challenged are by people standing up to them," she said. "In this case, a group of people have stood up to a deportation [order]."Harpal Singh Nagra, one of Mr. Singh's most vocal supporters at Monday's protest, is receiving criticism for his ties to the International Sikh Youth Federation, a group he said he helped organize in 1985.But when a member of his group faced charges in an attack on Ujjal Dosanjh, now a Liberal MP, Mr. Nagra said he severed all ties with the organization."I left in 1986," he said yesterday. "After that, whatever they were doing was none of my business."Mr. Nagra, head of the South Asian Human Rights Group, denied allegations that an organization he joined in India, the All India Sikh Student Federation, was involved in criminal activities.Mr. Singh arrived in Canada in 2003 with a forged passport. He filed a refugee claim but was turned down. He later suffered an aneurysm and became a paraplegic. He was ordered deported in June, but sought sanctuary in a temple in Abbotsford, and was granted an extension to wait for a decision on his bid to stay in Canada on compassionate and humanitarian grounds.That claim was rejected because the government believed he did not have sufficient ties to Canada. His most recent deportation order was issued last week.Some supporters believe he should not have to make the 20-hour flight to India until he is in better health, while others believe he should stay for good.