For some time now, there has been a silent battle going on for two Nigerian female students attending a university in Canada. As a matter of fact, two Canadian ministers are blocking all efforts to stop the two University of Regina (U of R) students from being deported. Meanwhile the two concerned students, Victoria Ordu and Ihuoma Amadi, have been taken sanctuary in a Regina church for several months because they’re afraid they’ll be deported.
Their crime: They have student visas which allow them to work, but only on campus. They claim they did not know of the restriction and worked for a short time at a Wal-Mart store, but stopped as soon as they learned of the rules. However, they have been ordered to leave the country. Since then there have been protests, petitions and various media reports about their situation.
Recently, Saskatchewan Economy Minister Bill Boyd wrote to federal Public Safety Minister, Vic Toews, who is responsible for the Canadian Border Services Agency, expressing concern and asking for an update. However, on Wednesday, Toews told CBC News there will be no exceptions made for Ordu and Amadi. He went further, saying the two aren’t even students.
In his words, “I’m advised that the two individuals are not students in accordance with the plan that they’ve submitted here and have no basis for remaining in Canada,” he said. Also, Federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenny made similar statements in the House of Commons on Wednesday in response to a question from Saskatchewan Liberal MP Ralph Goodale.
Goodale had asked: “Both the University of Regina and the Government of Saskatchewan oppose deportation of these two young women for a small honest mistake. Will the minister agree?”
In response, Kenny said: “First of all, one of the students told the CBSA that she had not been enrolled in classes and had been academically disqualified, and she had documents confirming that… Both of these individuals had hearings before the immigration division before receiving exclusion orders. Both of their social insurance numbers indicated that they did not have permission to work in Canada.”
However, a consultant working on the women’s cases says that’s not true. He says they were both enrolled at the U of R and while they broke the rules, in this case the punishment does not fit the crime.
On their part the students, who are afraid of having three years of their lives wasted, are devastated: “It’s a huge deal to finish school, come back (to Nigeria) and help the country… Now to think we lose three years of our lives because of a small mistake? If there was a fine, a warning, that would be more reasonable. I just wish they could look at this from a human point of view,” Amadi says.
Also, Barb Pollock, U of R spokeswoman, says while the school respects the fact laws have to be upheld, it is trying to advocate for a reconsideration of the girls’ case: “We think that the penalty, perhaps, is a bit severe for the crime,” she says… Albeit that laws have been contravened, in light of what they have done to contravene the law, we would like them to have an opportunity to complete their education with us … (and) we think it is a harsh penalty to be deported.”