An Egyptian couple with two Canadian-born children won't be granted a stay of deportation, a Federal Court in Montreal has decided.
Tarek and Samah Khalifa, parents of daughters Sarah, 8, and Aicha, 6, have been in Canada for eight years.
The couple is set to be deported to Egypt on Friday.
Tarek Khalifa said he must now decide between leaving their Canadian-born daughters behind, or bringing them into a country still plagued by instability.
“If you’re preventing your own citizens from going there as a visitor, imagine this for citizens going back there with no means of living, no job, no house,” said Khalifa.
Immigration lawyer Rick Goldman says Amnesty International is now involved in the couple’s case.
“The current situation of human rights in Egypt is alarming and puts the family at risk of arbitrary detention and torture,” he said. “So it's a very strong case in terms of protection, in terms of the humanitarian aspects.”
Khalifa said he and his wife came to Canada to escape persecution from Muslim extremists nearly a decade ago.
'I don’t see any future for them in their land of deportation.' - Tarek Khalifa, Egyptian father of Canadian-born daughters
Khalifa said he has fought to remain in the country ever since.
Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board had denied their refugee status claim, and Khalifa said he was then misled by what he calls bad legal advice.
“I didn’t have the experience,” he said of the immigration process. “I’ve changed lawyers many times.”
Goldman said Khalifa’s initial claim should never have been turned down.
“In my opinion they were wrongly refused right at the outset,” he said, explaining the board had deemed that their allegations of persecution were not credible.
“Once you get a negative decision about your credibility from the Immigration and Refugee Board, it’s very, very hard to overcome it with the different procedures that are in place,” he added.
Now, the Khalifas say they are being sent back to a country where they have no support network.
They also fear for the well-being of their eldest daughter, who has epilepsy.
“The treatment she’s getting here is quality, and she’s getting it for free. The treatment there, it’s not in the same quality by any means, and it’s not for free,” Khalifa said.
'Mercy' from government sought
Wednesday’s Federal Court hearing was their last legal recourse. They were hoping to be granted an emergency stay of deportation and were pleading for help.
"I need some mercy from this government," Khalifa said earlier this week. However, the judge turned down their request.
Deportations are the responsibility of Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). Representatives from the CBSA were not available for an interview, but sent a statement by email.
“Once individuals have exhausted all legal avenues of recourse/due process, they are expected to respect the laws and leave Canada,” wrote the CBSA's Stéphane Malépart.
He explained that having Canadian children isn’t a guarantee against deportation, but that special considerations are given to the children’s best interest.
He added that it’s possible to facilitate the children’s trip so they’re not separated from the family.
Goldman said the only thing that can save the family now is direct intervention from Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander or Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney.
“We really hope that one of the ministers will exercise his discretion,” he said.
Khalifa said he wants to keep his daughters in the only country they’ve ever called home.
“I don’t see any future for them in their land of deportation,” he said.