2 of the Afghan Canadians who worked for the Canadian military in Afghanistan filed a lawsuit alleging the Federal Government of discriminatory immigration policies.
In an application with the Federal Court, these two Canadian Afghans alleged that the Canadian government offered “superior immigration benefits” to Ukrainians as compared to those offered to Afghans.
“Ukrainians are predominantly white and European. Afghans are predominantly dark-skinned and Muslim. Thus, the CUAET has the effect of distinguishing based on race, colour, ethnic origin and religion, which are prohibited grounds under s. 15 of the Charter,” as per their lawsuit application obtained by Toronto Star.
“We are proud Canadians, we are proud of what we did for Canada and now we are being treated like trash,” said one of lawsuit filing Afghan-Canadian.
As per the policy for Afghan language and culture advisers (LCAs), their immediate family member such as sister is eligible to come to Canada, but her adult children is ineligible.
“We want Ukrainian policy to be extended to anyone who needs it.” “Not just Ukrainians, but anyone in a similar situation of wartime persecution or grave human-rights violations,” said Nicholas Pope, one of the attorneys representing the advisors.
What is the Canadian Afghans’ Case all about?
During Canada’s engagement in the conflict, language and culture advisers (LCAs), were recruited and sent alongside soldiers to help them traverse the new cultural landscape.
Unlike interpreters, who were hired on a contract basis by the military through international businesses, LCAs were treated as serving members of the military, wearing uniforms and receiving high-level security clearances to carry out their duties.
Over the duration of the operation, around 45 of them worked with the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF).
One of the 2 lawsuit filing Afghans was among the last deployments to Kandahar before Canada’s combat role concluded in 2011.
When the Taliban seized over Afghanistan in 2021, Canada committed to relocate 40,000 Afghans by the end of the year, including former translators, human rights advocates, and members of religious minority organizations.
However, LCAs were advised that they would have to use on regular economic or family sponsorship methods to bring family members from Afghanistan to Canada.
Furthermore, one of the human rights case pushed Canadian government to broaden its current Afghan settlement program to include families of LCAs as well.
Now the 2 complainants claim that the program is too restricted in scope in comparison to the one implemented by Canada for Ukrainians.
It grants Ukrainians and their family members, even if they are not Ukrainian, prolonged temporary immigration status in Canada, allowing them to work and study here.
Additionally, there is no limit on the amount of applications accepted under the program without paying any processing fee and priority processing.
LCA candidates must have been in Afghanistan on or after July 22, 2021 and fulfill a specified definition of family member, according to the rules.
According to the lawsuit, if the LCAs were Ukrainian, they would have no trouble bringing their family members to Canada, who are ineligible as per the policy for Afghans.
Canadian Immigration Response
As per Toronto Star, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) stated that the Afghans had no grounds to allege national origin discrimination.
People who are not Ukrainian do not have access to the Ukrainian program, according to IRCC, and not all programs can be offered to everyone.
“If that were the case, IRCC would be unable to respond to any humanitarian crisis in a targeted facilitative manner without responding equally and simultaneously to all humanitarian crises,” IRCC
Immigration Minister Sean Fraser back in December 2022 said they don’t have plans to increase the allocation for Afghans because it will “eat away allocations that are already committed to other groups who working to sponsor people.”