Environmental student fears Canada is looking to deport him – Mother Jones

Lawyers he consulted advised Zain Haq “that I should travel light and be prepared to travel”.Ian Harland

This story was originally posted by Canadian National Observer and is reproduced here as part of the Climate office collaboration.

An international student leading a controversial campaign of civil resistance to end ancient logging in British Columbia, he fears the Canada Border Services Agency is seeking to deport him.

Zain Haq, co-founder of the Save Old Growth protest group behind a recent string of highway blockades across the province, was ordered to report to a CBSA office.

The third-year history major at Simon Fraser University, a native of Pakistan, is in Canada on a study permit, a document issued by Immigration Canada.

The 21-year-old activist went into hiding after speaking to a number of lawyers who advised him that the CBSA is likely to want to detain him. He still has to find a lawyer who will represent him. “Basically what they all suggested to me was that I should pack light and be prepared to travel,” Haq said. Canadian National Observer Thursday.

Ultimately, Haq fears that the CBSA intends to deport him because of his activist work. “It is my suspicion and the suspicion of others that it is due to political reasons,” he said. “I feel very anxious because it’s very fast. That’s a lot to process and work on.

Requirements for obtaining a study permit include compliance with the law and no criminal record. The SFU student has been arrested 10 times for acts of civil resistance at various climate-related protests since 2020. And on February 15, he was sentenced to two weeks in prison for contempt of court after violating an injunction regarding the Trans Mountain pipeline. plugin (TMX).

He was also fined $1,500 in British Columbia Provincial Court for his involvement in an Extinction Rebellion protest against TMX on Nov. 27 that blocked a Canadian National line in Burnaby. And he currently faces five misdemeanor charges, he said.

But despite being locked up for contempt of court, Haq doesn’t think that technically results in a criminal record.

CBSA officers visited his apartment twice earlier this week when he was not there, Haq said. In the first instance on Monday, CBSA officers left him a letter with his roommate ordering Haq to report to the border agency offices the next morning or risk arrest. They returned the next day.

Haq said he only saw the letter on the morning in question and had no time to respond or seek legal advice. The threatening letter did not provide any information about why he was told to go to the border agency.

The CBSA summons came on the same day that Save Old Growth launched its recent campaign promising a series of roadblocks in June. There had been no phone calls or letters before officers suddenly knocked on his door, he added.

Haq will try to avoid contact with CBSA until he can finish preparing with SOG organizers for his possible deportation. But he also intends to report to the border agency once he gets legal advice. “Because I’m one of the central coordinators, it’s a really bad time for this to happen,” he said. “It is really important that our mobilization does not collapse.

“So I’m just trying to figure out what the plan is for me to potentially be out of town right now.”

The CBSA cannot provide information on specific cases generally considered protected under the Privacy Act, senior spokeswoman Rebecca Purdy said in an email to Canadian National Observer. However, the agency has a legal obligation to remove all foreign nationals and permanent residents who violate the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), Purdy wrote.

But before taking any enforcement action, the CBSA considers all relevant factors related to a case alongside the IRPA violations outlined in sections 34 to 42, she said, noting that cases involving safety and security issues take priority.

“Serious inadmissibility cases (those involving criminality, national security, war crimes, human rights violations and organized crime) are a top priority for the CBSA,” he said. -she adds.

All individuals who are subject to enforcement action by the CBSA have access to due process and procedural fairness,” she said. “The deportees have either exhausted or chosen not to pursue other legal remedies and have no legal right to remain in Canada.

But Haq questions whether his activities aimed at highlighting the severity of the climate catastrophe should be considered illegal when governments’ failure to act in the global emergency is not. “Our framing is that illegal activities are carried out by the government, and we are trying to do something about it.”

He acknowledged that there is a measure of risk for anyone who participates in civil disobedience movements. “Other people have stopped caring about their status, their jobs and their careers to join the resistance and risk being arrested,” Haq said.

“Putting ourselves into danger is how we maximize the chances of success,” he added, adding that SOG’s fearlessness has helped attract and mobilize a large number of people.

The dangers of the accelerating climate crisis are greater than any individual personal risk, he said. “We are facing mass starvation and an extreme likelihood of societal collapse within the next few years.”

The 21-year-old activist said he could face political persecution if indeed deported to Pakistan. “It’s very likely because I will obviously engage in similar activities if I return, and that could obviously lead to my imprisonment, or worse,” Haq said. “Whether I’m in Canada or at home, I think political persecution will be common if you’re on the right side of history.”