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BC man's sister denied immigration because of Down syndrome

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – She’s an artist who can sell her work. She’s an award winning runner. She passed two medical examinations. She has a brother who is willing to fully sponsor her coming to and living in Canada.

But Immigration Canada has denied her entry because she has mild Down syndrome.

The family has waited five years in India to join their son in Canada, only to be turned down. It’s a decision which is being called “bigoted and discriminatory”.

Kevin Patel came to Canada, became a citizen, is a certified general accountant for a huge firm and the next step was reuniting his family here, “I applied to sponsor [my parents] in 2006, with their Down syndrome daughter, Aditi, my sister. They were denied because of her Down syndrome, just earlier this year. It took over five years.”

Patel says his sister is an independent 27 year old who is healthy, high functioning, has never been a burden to their family, a Paralympian at the state level and an artist. He thinks she will not be a drain on the social services of Canada, even claiming he would personally support her before resorting to that.

Patel questions the priorities of the system, “Are we looking at immigration as a nation-building exercise? Or are we looking at immigration as a commercial project where we only bring in young people, only smart people, so that they can fund our economy? Should we treat immigrants as a commodity and not as person or as a family.”

He and the NDP’s Don Davies are asking Immigration Minister Jason Kenney to reverse the decision.

The Vancouver-Kingway MP is shocked by the policy, “Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, the other day, was talking about how he wants to attract to Canada young, educated, English-speaking people with jobs. People like Kevin Patel. You’re not going to attract people like Kevin Patel if you tell them that his parents or his sister can’t come, that the price of being a Canadian is the cost of being separated from his family for the rest of his life.”

Davies says Immigration Canada’s reason for refusal cites an excessive burden on Canada’s health and social services, but the conclusion is not supported by any facts and is an outdated stereotype.

“This is 2012, not 1950,” says Davies. “People with Down syndrome are loved, cherished members of our families, of our communities, of Canada. They work, they go to school, they get married, they contribute in every manner that any one of us do.”