A Laval family is facing what appears to be imminent deportation to Guinea Sunday after public pleas for reconsideration have failed to result in a last minute reprieve.
Several dozen supporters of the Keita family protested outside the Montreal office of the federal Citizenship and Immigration department Saturday in the hopes that the government would step in and stay the deportation order.
Kankou Keita and her five children were ordered deported back to their native Guinea after their refugee claim was refused.
Kankou Keita says a mistake was made by her first lawyer which prevented Immigration Canada from receiving her family's application to remain in the country on humanitarian grounds.
The Keitas are asking for a temporary stay so their application can be submitted again. Kankou Keita has been working at a factory to support her family, and her five children, who all speak French, were either working or enrolled in school.
She said going back to Guinea would be a nightmare.
She worries that she and her older sister will be forced into arranged marriages and made to undergo genital mutilation.
According to the World Health Organization’s 2011 progress report on female genital mutilation, about 40 per cent of girls between the ages of 15 and 19 are subjected to the practice in Guinea.
It’s the only African country detailed in the report that showed a higher instance in the younger population compared to older women, indicating that the practice is not on the decline.
The Keita family arrived in Canada in 2007. Its application for refugee status was denied, and the family later applied to stay on humanitarian grounds.
The family’s current lawyer says Immigration never received that application.
Immigration officials said earlier this week they aren’t able to comment on specific cases.
But Canada Border Services has said there's little leeway once a deportation order is issued, and it’s obligated to proceed with the removal as quickly as possible.
Anne-Marie Bellemare, a social worker who's helping the family, said she isn’t giving up hope, even though there seems to be little likelihood that the family will be allowed to remain while it makes another application.
"Until the plane [takes off]
, I still have hope that someone in Canada will say, ‘Whoa, we need to stop and start from zero,’" she said.
If a stay isn’t granted, the family will be required to report to Montreal’s Trudeau airport to leave the country Sunday.