Pakistani Student Activist appeals deportation form Canada

by Imtiaz Popat

Zain Ul-Haq is a young Pakistani student and a leader in the global climate movement who is currently facing deportation from Canada as a result of his participation in non-violent civil disobedience intended to raise public awareness about the impending climate disaster. Deportation means possibly permanent separation from his Canadian spouse and the denial of an opportunity to complete his university studies.

He is an international student from Pakistan who learned about the urgent climate crisis that puts his future and the future of the planet in peril. He became involved with groups focused on raising public awareness and lobbying the Canadian government to implement policies at the scale necessary to address that crisis, and helped lead a successful campaign pressuring Simon Fraser University to commit to full fossil-fuel divestment by 2025. Between March and September 2021, he was arrested several times for his participation in non-violent direct action in the Vancouver metropolitan area organized by Extinction Rebellion and Save Old Growth.

In February 2022 he served 14 days in prison for violating a Court injunction against protestors blocking construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline in Burnaby, British Columbia, and later pled guilty to five counts of mischief. As a result of those mischief charges, he will likely be found inadmissible to Canada for criminality under s. 36(2)(a) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

He has been compliant with probationary conditions imposed by the BC courts and CBSA since September 2022, has taken responsibility for his participation in nonviolent civil disobedience, and he plans to continue to advocate for necessary change through legal means. Although CBSA revoked his study permit in 2022, SFU has indicated that he is eligible to re-enroll in order to complete his history degree as soon as he is legally authorized to study. He has been offered a job as a campaign organizer with as soon as he is legally authorized to work.

In April 2023, he married his Canadian partner Sophia Papp, and shortly after he submitted an application for Permanent Residence. They are appealing to the Canadian government  to allow him stay on the basis of their authentic marriage and to grant  him temporary work and/or study authorization while his application is under consideration and border services prioritize his deportation to allow time for the spousal sponsorship application to be processed. They hope that Canadian political leaders understand why young people are afraid for the future of the planet.

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