Canadians must uphold their “moral responsibility” and allow immigration proceedings to run their course in the cases of the 76 illegal migrants — believed to be Tamil men from Sri Lanka — found aboard the Ocean Lady last week, the Canadian Tamil Congress (CTC) said yesterday in downtown Vancouver.
“I think we need to recognize Canada is a country of immigrants,” said Gary Anandasangaree, the CTC’s general counsel.
He added that though the migrants have a right to counsel, the CTC does not believe they have been given full access to those legal resources.
Many of the migrants are expected to apply for refugee status, something they cannot do in Sri Lanka because Canada does not recognize the South Asian nation as a source country for refugees.
The only way Sri Lankans can apply for refugee status is to go through a lengthy process with an immigration agency or apply from another country, Anandasangaree said.
The nature of the migrants’ flight speaks to the abhorrent conditions they face at home, said CTC national spokesperson David Poopalapillai.
“Stop the persecution,” he said. “We’ve done it for many other nations, it’s time to do it for Sri Lanka as well.”