News / Ottawa

Advocates want Ottawa-born man to have Canadian citizenship despite new charges

Deepan Budlakoti is effectively stateless. He was born to parents who were working at the Indian High Commission but he doesn't have either Indian or Canadian citizenship.

The government ordered Deepan Budlakoti deported after a previous criminal conviction.

Sean Kilpatrick / The Canadian Press file

The government ordered Deepan Budlakoti deported after a previous criminal conviction.

Advocates for an Ottawa-born man are calling on the government to give him Canadian citizenship despite a second arrest for drug offences.

Deepan Budlakoti was charged this week as part of a large OPP operation of drug trafficking in the Ottawa and Gatineau area.

Budlakoti was born in the city to parents who were working at the Indian High Commission. This has left the question of his citizenship in doubt and after a previous criminal conviction, the government ordered him deported and said he didn’t have Canadian citizenship.

He does not possess Indian citizenship either, making him effectively stateless.

In a statement, Yavar Hameed, Deepan’s immigration lawyer, said the new charges don’t change the fact he should have citizenship.

“The Minister has an ongoing duty to apply values of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to consider the impact of immigration restrictions applied to Deepan,” he said. “This obligation is not eclipsed by criminal inadmissibility determined under immigration laws.”

Baljit Nagra, a professor at the University of Ottawa and a member of the Justice for Deepan committee, said the man is Canada’s responsibility.

“Deepan Budlakoti’s life and experiences are Canadian. He is Canadian. That he was arrested does not change this fact.”

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen’s press secretary Hursh Jaswal said the government stands by the position that Budlakoti does not have citizenship.

“In 2014, the Federal Court confirmed the Government’s position that Mr. Budlakoti is not entitled to Canadian citizenship,” he wrote. “As such, Mr. Budlakoti currently has no status in Canada and has been deemed inadmissible due to serious criminality.”

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