Janilee Cadongonan is being deported from Canada due to a clerical error that occurred in the Phillipines. Her last hope to stay in Canada would be intervention from Immigration Minister Jason Kenney who has ruled that “The need to maintain the integrity of the immigration system far outweighs any dislocation caused to the appellant, or her family, by the appellant’s removal from Canada,” ruled the IRB’s appeals division.
In 2008, Cadongonan returned to the Philippines for a three-week stay during which she wed her boyfriend, Allen Reyes. Upon applying for their marriage licence, they found it came with a waiting period that would have taken her beyond her three-week stay. She says the clerk of the judge who married them said that wasn’t a problem; they could be married right away, without a licence, if they filled out a form as an alternative.
Cadongonan, who had permanent resident status here, returned to Duncan and applied to sponsor Reyes’s immigration to Canada. It was while processing that application that immigration authorities discovered the form the couple had filled out in the Philippines was one for couples who had been living together for at least five years.
After being informed of this, the couple had their marriage annulled and Cadongonan withdrew her sponsorship application. “I did everything I could to make it right.”
Nonetheless, Citizenship and Immigration Canada moved to have her kicked out of the country.
We believe this is unfair and heavy-handed, especially when more notable non-Canadians who have been convicted of fraud have been allowed to stay - thus negating the Immigration minister's original reason for having her deported.
“They said I misrepresented myself.” Not so, she says. “We just signed a form. It wasn’t explained to us that we were supposed to be in a five-year common-law relationship.”
The Immigration and Refugee Board simply didn’t buy that argument, didn’t believe that she didn’t know what she was signing.
We think that she was simply misinformed in the Phillipines and should not be held accountable for a clerical error beyond her control and against her best intentions.
She should rather be held up as an example to all Canadians, indeed all peoples of the world, to show what industry, hard work and determination in face of almost insurmountable odds and unfeeling bureaucracy really means.
She is an example to all of us. Let's be fair. Let's show the world what being Canadian is all about.