Federal Court Rejects Refugee Status For Teen South Korean Twins

Federal court rejects refugee status for teen South Korean twins

By Carlito Pablo
The Georgia Straight
February 25, 2010

A Federal Court judge has upheld a decision to deny refugee status to 17-year-old twin brothers.

Unless the ruling is overturned or the minister of immigration exercises discretion to let them stay in Canada, the two B.C. boys will be deported to South Korea even though they hardly speak Korean and are unfamiliar with the culture there.

Despite ruling against the appeal of brothers Jae Wook Kim and Hyun Wook Kim, Judge Michel Shore noted in his February 12, 2010, decision that this case demonstrates the fragility of the human condition of two siblings who do not want to be separated.

The Kims were born in Seoul, South Korea, and their family moved to Hong Kong when they were about four years old, according to the ruling. Their father died in 2000 and left a large debt. Unable to care for them, their mother sent them to family friends, the Lees, in Canada. They arrived with student visas in 2004.

Problems soon arose, as the Lees spoke little English and the Kims spoke little Korean. In 2005 they ran away, and they were later put under the care of the B.C. Ministry of Children and Family Development. In 2008, they applied for refugee status. At present, theyre living in a foster home.

Last year, the Refugee Protection Division of the Immigration and Refugee Board denied their application. The brothers appealed the decision to the Federal Court of Canada.

Shore sustained the RPDs judgment that the twins do not meet the criteria for refugee protection set out under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act because they dont face any threat of persecution.

However, Shore also noted in his decision that the same division judgment pointed out that its in the best interest of the children for them to remain in Canada.

Shore stated that he agrees with the divisions recommendation that the case be considered by the immigration minister on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, a discretionary power that neither the RPD nor the Federal Court possesses.

A Straight request for comment from Immigration Minister Jason Kenney was denied. Vancouver-based Citizenship and Immigration Canada spokesperson Johanne Nadeau said in a phone interview that its up to applicants to prove their cases can be covered by an exemption to the laws requirements due to humanitarian and compassionate reasons.