As more flights to foreign countries resume, a refugee applicant who worked hard in three long-term care homes at the height of the pandemic feared that he might be deported.
Mamadou Konaté is responsible for cleaning the rooms of elderly patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the Montreal area. He contracted the disease in late April 2020 while doing so.
However, although the province has reached an agreement with the federal government to guarantee the residency of many asylum-seekers working in Quebec’s troubled long-term care homes, once the flights to Côte d’Ivoire are allowed again, Konat will face being deport.
“We immigrate to help this country make a living… During this pandemic, haven’t we paid enough? Many of us are victims of COVID-19,” Conat told Gathering Prime Minister Justin Te The crowd in front of Justin Trudeau’s prime minister’s office in Montreal on Tuesday morning.
“We are suitable for work, but never enough to gain dignity.”
Last year, Konat and his lawyers were arrested after trying to apply for residency and postpone deportation based on humanitarianism and compassion.
He was released from the immigration detention center in the fall with a bail of $7,000, provided that he was prohibited from working.
Before that, Konat had gone underground. His first refugee application was deemed “inadmissible” because there is a vague part of the Canadian immigration law that stipulates that anyone involved in overthrowing the government cannot seek residency in Canada.
“He became the target of Article 34 of the law in a very unfair way,” Conat’s lawyer Stewart Istvanffy said in the protest.
“He is a model immigrant. He belongs to this country, but because he participated in the civil war in Côte d’Ivoire 20 years ago, they prevented him from entering the country, which is very unfair.”
Estevanfi called this part of the immigration law a “very strange law that prevents many people from entering the country.”
Last fall, he told CBC News, “This is basically the terms we will make Nelson Mandela Unacceptable. “
“According to this clause of our law, anyone who joins the resistance to the Nazis will not be accepted by Canada. This is a crazy clause. In a democratic country, we should not have it, but it is in the law.”
Konaté arrived in Quebec more than five years ago and has done several important jobs in remote areas of the province, including cutting trees for Quebec Hydro and sorting garbage at a waste management center, and then entering a long-term care home last spring.
Although Konaté has done a lot of work in the province, he cannot be admitted under federal immigration laws, so he is not eligible to apply for the Quebec permanent residence program for asylum seekers working in health care during the pandemic.
Even if Canadian law does not exclude him, his chances are slim. Many people point out that Quebec’s parameters are too narrow, ignoring many who were on the front lines in the first wave.
Frantz André, who advocates and assists asylum-seekers to apply for residency, says he knows that only a few people are accepted by the program.
Andre said: “In some ways, there are so many people who have contributed to saving lives. They should be eligible, but unfortunately they were rejected. This is a criminal act,” Andre said, who also specializes in saving lives. Outside Ludo’s office attends Konat’s rally.
The Quebec Immigration Department said on Tuesday that 1,013 of the 1,355 applications for the program have been completed, resulting in the issuance of 2,057 Quebec selection certificates.
The selection certificate is part of an agreement reached between the Quebec government and Ottawa, which gives it a say in who gets permanent residency in the province-ultimately the federal government makes a decision. It is not clear whether the remaining 342 applications have been rejected or just have not been processed.
Regarding the Konaté case, Flore Bouchon, a spokesperson for the Quebec Department of Immigration, said: “Quebec has no right to intervene in someone’s case or prevent deportation orders against them.”
Bouchon said the government is “sensitive” to his situation but will not comment further to avoid confidentiality issues.
CBC News also contacted the Federal Department of Immigration and Refugees, but has not yet received a response.