May 21, 2014 6:24 pm

Victim of 25-year-old kidnapping struggles to avoid deportation

Watch above: After living in Canada for 20 years, an Edmonton mother found out she wasn’t even Canadian. Fletcher Kent reports.

EDMONTON — An Edmonton woman who feared she may be forced to leave Canada and her family because of her mother’s crime has won a reprieve.

Andrea Bremmer, 32, learned only recently that, as a child, she was kidnapped by her mother from the U.S. and brought to Canada. She grew up here and raised four children, never realizing she’s not a citizen.

“I’m angry, I’m really angry,” Bremmer told Global Edmonton this week. “I started a family. I had a normal life here. I was told lies.”

In 1989, Bremmer was living with her family in Los Angeles. Her parents were engaged in a bitter custody battle, and at Christmas, her mother Margaret kidnapped the eight year-old and brought her to Vancouver. She told Bremmer she had been born in Canada.

Over the next twenty years, Bremmer led what she describes as a normal life. She met Keith Preston and the couple had four children together.

Then, in 2009, a knock on the door changed her life. Immigration officials told Bremmer she was a missing person.


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Bremmer describes the moment as the “scariest thing.” She says she didn’t believe them at first and asked,”You’re telling me I have a brother and other parents?”

The shock quickly turned to fear when Bremmer learned she had no legal standing in Canada. Officials told her she would have to apply to stay in the country.

Bremmer says she started to fill out the forms but couldn’t get through them. She didn’t have the necessary identification and didn’t think she could get any.

One Edmonton immigration lawyer says immigration law is complicated and it would not surprise her if someone struggled to complete the forms.

“It changes every year. It changes with the whim of the government of the year. It changes daily,” says Wendy Danson with the lawfirm McCuaig Desrosches LLP.

Danson adds she has one client whose residency application on humanitarian and compassionate grounds has been stuck in the system for 14 years. She also represents lawyers who struggle with understanding immigration law.

Danson says only tax law is more complicated. That is because immigration is a hot-button political issue.

“The government, rather than set policy in immigration, is trying to micromanage it and that doesn’t work,” she says.

Earlier this month, immigration officials visited Bremmer again and warned her to take immediate action.

Bremmer was afraid that she may be deported and forced to leave her family behind.

But on Wednesday afternoon,  Citizenship and Immigration told  Bremmer it will grant her a two-year Temporary Resident Permit, which “will provide her time to apply for permanent residence.”

The permit will also allow her to travel to the U.S., where she can get the identification she needs.

Bremmer is ecstatic.

While she still must navigate a complicated bureaucracy, she says the decision has given her hope for the first time in years.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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