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Hamilton, Ont. chef facing deportation gets extension to stay in Canada, says attorney

John Mulwa has been fighting to stay in Canada for several years under a provision that allows safety for those fleeing violence. He insists he left him home country Kenya for a better life in Ontario. John Mulwa / Facebook

A Hamilton-based chef who says he’s been repeatedly denied protected refugee status in Canada will not be deported this weekend as per an order from the federal government.

Attorney Joshua Makori told 900 CHML’s the Scott Radley show that his client John Mulwa has been allowed to stay in Canada for another 18 months on a temporary residence permit issued by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

“We did submit an application for him to become a permanent resident under the what you call the humanitarian and compassionate application process … the minister may have given him this extension so that the application will be submitted to be completed,” explained Makori.

The decision means Mulwa will be able to continue to reside and work in Canada until his application is completed.

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Makori says Mulwa’s issues surround substantiating claims he’s running from violence.

“Which is a challenge because if you are running away, for example like John who is running away from Kenya, it would be a challenge for to be able to get evidence from that country,” he said.

Mulwa’s deportation plight began early in January when he was sought by Canada Border Services (CBSA) for an interview in which he would subsequently be told he needed to leave the country on Jan. 28 due to being a failed claimant.

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He came to Canada through Vancouver from Kenya in 2014 and was initially granted protected person refugee status over a claim his life was in danger.

Canada offers such safeguard under its Protected Persons convention which allows for residency provided an applicant can prove they cannot “live permanently without fear of persecution.”

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Mulwa was denied status in an initial hearing but was able to reside in Canada while making four more appeals over several years.

During his stay, Mulwa says he’s built a life in Hamilton having worked as a chef for the Students’ Association at Mohawk College, a cook with Columbia International College and runs a catering business that provides meals to Hamilton’s unhoused communities.

“What I’m asking from the government of Canada is for them to grant me status so I can walk and be at peace and not be killed,” Mulwa told Global News on Monday during a migrant protest in downtown Hamilton where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was holding a cabinet retreat.

“If I go home, something bad will happen to me.”

Canada set a new immigration record last year with more than 430,000 permanent residents arriving in the country.

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Immigration Minister Sean Fraser said in an early January news release that Canada reached a goal of welcoming 431,645 new permanent residents in 2022.

Ottawa beat its previous record set in 2021, when Canada welcomed more than 401,000 new permanent residents.

Makori says he doesn’t understand why Mulwa wouldn’t be considered in that pool having made applications to stay legally and participating as a contributing member of a community.

He argues the recent settlers the government have sought required supports in the form of training and accommodations.

“But these people (like John) don’t. They’re here. They want to work. They want to be allowed to stay here and to support the economy,” Makori argued.

A petition, started by some his biggest supporters in Hamilton, seeking 25,000 signatures supporting status in Canada has reached just over 18,000 as of late January.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) doesn’t comment on individual cases due to privacy legislation, but previously told Global News in an email that eligible asylum claimants receive “independent and fair assessment” on the merits of their claim.

“Every individual facing removal is entitled to due process, but once all avenues to appeal are exhausted, they are removed from Canada in accordance with Canadian law.”

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