Hamilton woman deported to Egypt

The family of a Hamilton woman who was deported to Egypt on Saturday is still waiting to hear if she arrived safely.

Wafaa Abdou's family still waiting to hear if she's okay

Hamiltonian Ian Wilkie addresses the crowd at an April 19 rally in support of his wife, who was deported on Saturday. (Cory Ruf/CBC)

The family of a Hamilton woman who was deported to Egypt on Saturday is still waiting to hear if she arrived safely.

Wafaa Abdou boarded a plane Saturday night after weeks of campaigning by her family and friends to keep the mother of three in Hamilton.

"We still haven't received any calls," said her husband, Ian Wilkie. Abdou is set to move in with her mother in Cairo. 

Wilkie, who is from Hamilton, met Abdou in Egypt over a decade ago. The two were living in Syria in 2011 when that country's civil war broke out, and they fled to Canada to settle in Hamilton with their three children — Fatima, 6, Yusuf, 8, and Zaynab, 11.

A Canadian citizen, Wilkie said he tried to sponsor his wife's immigration immediately. They were told to seek refugee status instead, which Wilkie has said was bad advice. The process eventually led to a Jan. 14 appointment in which Abdou was interrogated and told her claim had been denied.

"Our family has been disrupted and torn apart," Wilkie said. "We didn't ask for this."

We don't offer immigration advice: CIC

Citizenship and Immigration officials can't comment on specific cases before the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB), Erika-Kirsten Easton, director of ministerial events and media relations, told CBC Hamilton in March.

But as for the notion of Abdou being erroneously advised to file for refugee status, the department "does not offer immigration advice of the kind you suggest," she said.

Canada's refugee system, Easton said, is "one of the fairest refugee systems in the world. Decisions regarding who is granted refugee status are made "only after a thorough review," she said. "Due process is diligently followed at every step."

And unless a spouse sponsors an immigrant, the government does not give more weight to someone married to a Canadian, she said.

"(Citizenship and Immigration Canada) considers all applications in a fair and impartial manner according to Canada's immigration laws and based on the facts of the case."

'Hoping for the best'

Wilkie told CBC Hamilton that he is currently in the process of sponsoring Abdou back into the country as his spouse.

He says he expects it will take a year to a year and a half for his wife to make it back to Canada.

"We're hoping for the best," Wilkie said. "We're hoping to get her back as soon as possible."