International students at U of R grateful for public support

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September 17, 2012 - 3:57pm Updated: September 18, 2012 - 11:17am
Students -Ihouma Amadi left and Victoria Ordu right- at the location where they are seeking sanctuary in Regina facing deportation to Nigeria. Adriana Christianson/CJME
Students -Ihouma Amadi left and Victoria Ordu right- at the location where they are seeking sanctuary in Regina facing deportation to Nigeria. Adriana Christianson/CJME

A week after telling their story publicly, the only thing that has really changed for Victoria Ordu and Ihouma Amadi is a donated mattress so they don't have to sleep on the floor.

They each spent two weeks working at WalMart last summer which they say was a simple mistake. They thought they were allowed to work off-campus because they were issued social insurance numbers by the university and they had worked on-campus before. As soon as Ordu discovered her mistake, before she was ever contacted by border security, she quit. Amadi was hauled away in handcuffs two weeks after she started working, and didn't understand the reason.

Now after going through appeals that were denied over the course of several months, the girls are hiding from border officials facing deportation back to Nigeria.

"It hasn't been easy at all though but we are grateful that everyone is making positive contributions and donating things," Ordu said.

In addition to the mattress, the girls have had donations of food from fellow students and the President of the University of Regina, Vianne Timmons and even from a local grocery store.

"I really want to thank everyone who sympathizes with us and the support groups on facebook and everyone who has voted for us to stay, it really means a lot to us," Ordu commented, referring to messages of support.

Since they went into hiding in June they have been writing letters to government officials pleading for a pardon to stay and finish their studies in Canada.

"Going back (to Nigeria) and coming back to Canada is not easy at all, it's just not possible at all," Ordu said, explaining that they are both on government scholarships and were lucky to have this chance at an education in the first place.

If they were to leave now, they say all their work would be for nothing because they would go home empty-handed.

"That would mean wasting three years of our studies and it's a big deal actually, being educated and having a Canadian degree and going back home," she said.

The University of Regina has also been in contact with Canada Border Services and the offices of the Minister for Immigration, asking for a pardon from the Minister for Public Safety, Vic Toews who could grant them a stay over deportation and the Minister of Immigration Jason Kenney who could renew their student permits.

So far several letters from the girls, their immigration consultant and the University have gone unanswered.

Following requests to the office of the Minsiter of Immigration for an interview or comment on the case we were sent privacy waiver forms for the students to sign so Citizenship and Immigration Canada could comment on their case.

After receiving the signed waiver forms, News Talk Radio received an email reply outlining the basic details of their case.

It reads:

"Ms. Ordu arrived in Canada in May 2009 and was issued a study permit valid until December 31, 2012.  To maintain their status, students must comply with the terms and conditions of their visa, including attending school and not working without authorization.

To work off campus, students must apply for a work permit and cannot begin to work off campus until they have received the work permit.

Ms. Ordu had a pre-removal risk assessment for which she received a negative decision in March 2012.  A pre-removal risk assessment (PRRA) is a thorough process that evaluates whether a person would face persecution, torture, risk to life or risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment, if returned to his or her country of origin.

PRRA decisions may be judicially reviewed by the Federal Court.  Our records show that Ms. Ordu did not ask the Federal Court to review the decision."

For Amadi the details were almost identical except that she first arrived in August 2009 and was issued a study permit valid until April 30 2012.

Kay Adebogun is working as an immigration consultant on behalf of Ordu and Amadi. He explained that they chose not to appeal for a review of the decision at the federal court level because they could not afford the cost of going through that legal process. Instead, he confirmed they did apply for pre-removal risk assessment, which was denied.

All they want now is to get an answer to their pleas for a pardon and to hopefully go back to school with their fellow students.

"We hope he pardons us and tampers justice with mercy basically," Ordu said.

Edited by CJME's Chelsea Laskowski