A Pakistani couple were deported from Canada on Tuesday morning, but left their children — including a five-year-old daughter — behind in Montreal.
Sabir Mohammed Sheikh and his wife, Seema, had lived with their family in Montreal for the past eight years but lost their refugee status for lying on their application when they first entered Canada.
They were driven to the U.S. border at about 10 a.m. ET and were to be handed over to American immigration officials because they entered Canada from there.
The couple's four children have been granted a stay, and will remain in Canada.
Their 21-year-old son, Sami Sheikh, and his 26-year-old sister, Ashrah — both students in Montreal — will now have to take care of their five-year-old sister, Sabrina.
"Our whole family is very devastated. My sister, she can't stop crying and my little sister, she doesn't even know what's going on," said Sami Sheikh. "It was the most awful situation to be in. I hope nobody [else] has to go through this."
The couple came to Canada in 2001 claiming refugee status from Pakistan, but were deported because Citizenship and Immigration Canada recently found out they spent 20 years in Dubai before arriving in Canada.
The family’s immigration lawyer, Stewart Istvanffy, said the decision to deport them is wrong.
"Refugees can be real refugees and be in great, great danger, and someone gives them bad advice and they lie about some secondary detail. And I don't think one lie means that you should be sent back to death. I think we have to show some judgment in this country," said Istvanffy.
Sheikh was involved in politics in Pakistan, and some of his family members were killed in political violence. The 51-year-old father said he’s received death threats and fears for his life if he is returned to Pakistan.
Stefan Christoff, a supporter of the Sheikh family, said Canada is violating international law.
"We're working now to get the UN office in Montreal to intervene on this case, and basically the violation is that the parents are being separated from their children through the decision of Immigration Canada," said Christoff.
The Sheikhs likely face detention after arriving south of the border. It's not known whether U.S. authorities will deport the Sheikhs to Pakistan.