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Sunday, October 10, 2010

A broken system exposes more cracks

Gerhard Wiebe is separated from his wife thanks to Canadian border agents

Canadian immigration is broken. How can you tell? One way is when a ministry's own personnel doesn't know its policies well enough to offer accurate advice. Another is when the ministry allows front-line workers (like border agents) to usurp authority at the cost of citizens and applicants.

This is just what happened in the case of Maria Eugenia Vazquez Cortes and Gerhard Wiebe, who traveled to Mexico for a family funeral over the summer. They had an open application in process with CIC, and Maria was legally in the country on an extended visitor's visa while the application was being processed. Before they left for the funeral, they checked with CIC to be sure there were no issues associated with leaving the country and coming back. They were told that there were none.

But upon return, Maria was stopped at the border by an agent who would not allow her back in. He didn't "believe" she would leave the country if the couple's application was denied.

What is the impact? It could mean that they will need to completely re-apply again, because Maria is now out of the country and being denied entry. It could mean they will have to fill out new forms again, get new police records checks and new medicals - all the time and expense all over again...not to mention that applications processed through Canada's Mexican visa office can take years - even if they are simple. And until then? They are separated. Their life together is disrupted; their future together is in doubt.

All because a broken system gave them bad advice, and a border agent had the power to derail a perfectly legal and above-board application that was in process.

And that is the tale of a broken system.

Read the whole sad story here.

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