Delayed deportation for front-line pandemic PSW keeps her from being separated from her daughter

A personal support worker who faced deportation to Uganda despite working on the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic for the past three years has been briefly pardoned, days after CBC Toronto report on her plight.

Fatumah Najjuma, a 29-year-old single mother of a Canadian-born girl, is facing deportation on January 7, despite applying for humanitarian and compassionate review months ago. there.

Now, after going public with her story to CBC Toronto, her deportation order has been moved to March 30, giving her valuable time to hopefully gain status in Canada.

“I have been praying and others are praying,” Najjuma said Wednesday after learning of the news. “I’m very grateful to everyone for their support.”

In particular, Najjuma thanked the nearly 40,000 supporters who signed an online petition asking her to stay and the advocacy groups that raised awareness of her case, including the Migrant Workers Coalition for Change.

Syed Hussan, the group’s chief executive officer, said: “The Migration Organization has won one more deportation deferral but Fatumah remains in an anxious limbo with an uncertain future ahead; We need lasting solutions for everyone and that means permanent residency for everyone.”

Upcoming policy changes for undocumented workers

As previously reported, Najjuma is facing deportation even as the federal government a year ago announced it would do more to give status to undocumented workers.

Najjuma said she fled Uganda while pregnant in 2018 after saying she was rejected by her family and her life was threatened because of her religious and social ties.

For three years, she worked as a personal support worker in nursing homes and people’s homes, including during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s a role she says she finds meaning, though privately facing the horror of losing the life she’s built in the safety of Canada.

“My mental health got worse and worse. I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat… With each passing day, I became more and more scared,” she told CBC Toronto.

Najjuma is pictured here with her daughter on her third birthday in March 2022. This is the last time she says she remembers being happy.  Not long after, she received a deportation order and could now be separated from her young daughter.
Najjuma is pictured here with her daughter on her third birthday in March 2022. This is the last time she says she remembers being happy. Not long after, she received a deportation order and may still face separation from her young daughter. (Posted by Fatumah Najjuma)

Canada pushed for Najuma’s deportation in January despite a mandate from Federal Immigration Minister Sean Fraser, issued by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last year, that included working to “explore more ways of legalizing it.” status for undocumented workers who are contributing to the Canadian community.”

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada says work is still underway, but it could not comment on programs or policies being developed.

That means while a change may be imminent to facilitate the path to permanent residency for people like Najjuma, she could still be deported back to Uganda while the branches specifics are addressed – which Hussan says is “unreasonable” because a policy change is underway.

It also means that Najjuma could be separated from her three-year-old daughter, Ilham; or her daughter may be forced to move to a country where her mother says her life will also be at stake.

‘Not about finding special cases’

The Najjuma deportation also comes after another personal support worker and her son, who are about to be separated from their Canadian family members, finally received permanent resident status on last week.

Nike Okafor and her son, Sydney, have been in Canada for 19 years and were waiting for their sponsorship application to be processed when they unexpectedly received a deportation order from Canada Border Services.

As CBC Toronto reported, their nightmare finally ended last Monday, when they received notification that their application for permanent residence had been approved.

Federal Immigration Minister Sean Fraser recently met with about 100 undocumented migration leaders from around the country to hear directly from them, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada said. (Patrick Swadden/CBC)

But for Hussan, “It’s not a matter of finding special circumstances, but adopting a discriminatory and unfair system that denies people permanent residency… and then separates them. away from their communities and put them in risky situations.”

According to the Migrant Workers for Change Coalition, there are an estimated half a million undocumented people in Canada and another 1.2 million with study and work permits or asylum — many unable to access basic services and face exploitation by landlords or in the workplace.

The group says thousands of people have been deported or face deportation since the immigration order was issued a year ago.

‘Not in complete remission’

IRCC says tens of thousands of temporary workers transition to permanent resident status each year. Of the 406,000 foreign nationals who became permanent residents in 2021, nearly 169,000 of them have transitioned from worker status.

Canada’s Border Services Agency previously told CBC Toronto that it cannot comment on individual cases for privacy reasons, but it is legally obligated to deport people who are not authorized to enter Canada under the law. The Immigration and Refugee Protection and Persons Deportation Orders Act is in effect.

“The decision to deport someone from Canada is not taken lightly,” the CBSA said, adding that it will only act on a deportation order “once all lawful recourse measures have been taken. exhausted”.

With the deportation deferred, Najjuma told CBC Toronto that she expects her application to be processed before time runs out.

“Until the storm clears, I’m not completely reassured,” she said.

“All I want is to stay with my daughter, be with her, raise her in this country and not anywhere else.”


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