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Canadian wrongly faces deportation, says mother

Nigel Cruickshank's family and lawyer believe `administrative oversight' is behind decision to deport him

Aug 25, 2007 04:30 AM

Nigel Cruickshank is no angel, but he may be Canada's problem, not Trinidad's.
The 34-year-old is being deported to Trinidad – for the second time – next Tuesday.
Problem is: he's a Canadian citizen. Or at least that's what he and his lawyer believe.
"Based on the information I have (it) appears to be an administrative oversight that Nigel's citizenship was not granted," lawyer Mary Lam said.
"If that in fact is the case, you cannot deport Canadian citizens."
Cruickshank immigrated to Toronto as a toddler in 1975. Three years later, his mother applied to become a Canadian citizen and on the advice of an immigration official, included the names of her three children, two of whom were born in Toronto.
"The guy who helped me fill out the form down at the Dufferin and Bloor office told me automatically Nigel will become a citizen the day I become a citizen, because he's under age," said Merle Akinmusire, 62.
So when Akinmusire received her documents that July, Cruickshank said he never thought about it again. That is until 1995, when he was deported to a country of which he had no memory.
"I've maintained I am Canadian from the get-go." Cruickshank said from the Metro West Detention centre. He has been denied bail three times because he's been deemed a flight risk. Lam, Cruickshank's lawyer, filed an access to information request last month for his file. She hopes it will show why the citizenship was not granted. From there, Lam will appeal to the federal court to stay the deportation order.
But time is running short.
"Immigration knows the papers are there, just no one chooses to look ... This is my right as a Canadian, to have someone look behind a computer screen. I feel like I'm being violated. Yes, I've had trouble with the law, but I've cleaned up. But as a Canadian citizen I shouldn't be going through this," said Cruickshank, who has one child and three unofficially adopted children.
Cruickshank's trouble began in 1993 when he was arrested and served time after committing a series of various offences; assault, break-and-enters, car theft and possession of weapons.
It was at this time he learned that despite the fact he had a social insurance number, Ontario driver's licence, health card, and filed his annual taxes, the proper citizenship documents never went through and there was no record of him being a citizen, he said.
Cruickshank arrived in Trinidad with no contacts or close family, and stayed in a hotel for 10 days while he applied for a Trinidadian passport.
After that, he bought a ticket back to Toronto, where he continued to work and pay taxes for more than a decade.
During this time, Cruickshank stayed out of trouble and gained a management position at a Thornhill auto parts company. But in 2005, he got caught fighting and was charged with assault.
Although that's not why he's currently being deported. He was picked up as an illegal alien on a routine check this past summer and has been in jail since the end of June.
An immigration spokesperson reviewed Cruickshank's file and referred us to the border agency. A spokesperson for the Canada Border Services Agency was not able to comment on the case.