A man who was born in Canada but was never granted Canadian citizenship is now fighting the conditions of his release from custody pending a removal order.
Deepan Budlakoti appeared at an Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada hearing in Montreal this morning asking that his conditions – which include remaining in the Ottawa area and periodically checking in with the Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBRA) – be loosened.
He said his life has been on hold since the government refused to recognize his citizenship claim.
He is presently stateless, holding no citizenship in any country.
"You can't do schooling properly. You can't go to work properly. You have no health coverage. So you feel like an outcast in society even though you are born in this country," he said.
Under Canadian law, citizenship by birth doesn't apply to people whose parents were in Canada as diplomats or representatives of a foreign government, or whose parents were employed by such a person, at the time of their birth.
When Budlakoti was born in Ottawa in 1989, his parents were both Indian nationals working for the Indian High Commission.
In 1992, Budlakoti's parents were granted permanent resident status. They applied for citizenship for themselves but not for their son. Their application was accepted.
According to court documents, Budlakoti was convicted in 2009 of breaking and entering and sentenced to four months in jail. He was considered a permanent resident of Canada at that time.
In 2010, he was convicted of weapons trafficking, possession of a firearm and drug trafficking and was sentenced to three years in jail.
According to the Citizenship and Immigration decision delivered in June, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration's office launched an investigation into Budlakoti's status in Canada in 2011.
The investigation found he was a permanent resident, not a Canadian citizen, and therefore inadmissible to Canada because of the "serious criminality" involved in his offences.
Not recognized by India
When his sentence was complete, Budlakoti was transferred to the Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBPA), where he was to be detained pending his removal from Canada. In 2013, India's High Commission said it didn't recognize Budlakoti
He was later released from CBPA custody with certain conditions, including that he not leave the Ottawa area and check in with the agency regularly.
Budlakoti took his citizenship fight to Federal Court, arguing that the government is infringing on his Charter rights to life, liberty and security of the person.
Budlakoti also disputed his parents' employment status at the time of his birth, arguing they had stopped working for the High Commission two months before he was born, and they were not diplomats.
The Federal Court ruled against him, and the Federal Court of Appeal upheld the ruling this week.
His lawyer says Budlakoti's present detention conditions continue to cause him psychological stress.
"They're making him anxious. They're making him depressed. It's basically making it impossible for him to function and have a normal life."
The immigration board member at today's hearing, François Milo, said he would change Budlakoti's conditions.
The details of those changes won't be known until Milo's decision in the coming weeks.
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