Flight to Vietnam ends Tran's long battle over Canadian immigration rules
By Richard Cuthbertson and Jason Van Rassel
March 3, 2010
CALGARY – Pushing a cart holding his luggage, reputed Calgary gangster Jackie Tran arrived at the Calgary International Airport Tuesday afternoon in advance of his anticipated deportation to Vietnam.
The Federal Court of Canada's refusal in January to intervene in the case gave authorities the go-ahead to enforce a 2004 order to deport Tran on the basis of “serious criminality.”
The deportation was also slated to end a protracted legal battle by Tran to remain in Canada, with some critics saying his case points to certain inadequacies in how the Canadian immigration system deals with those who are not citizens and commit crimes.
“It is a conclusion to a saga that has being going on for a number of years,” says former MP Art Hanger. “If in fact he does land on the soil in Vietnam, then good riddance is all I can say. That man should have been shipped out a long time ago and our country would be a lot better for it and so would the taxpayer be better off for it.”
Others, however, disagree, with his lawyer arguing that Tran unfairly became the public face for organized crime in Calgary during a time when there was heightened fear about gangs in the city.
Tran, 27, came to Canada as a child with his mother in 1993.
Tran is a permanent resident, but never became a Canadian citizen, which would have prevented his deportation.
The Immigration and Refugee Board's order to deport Tran for criminality rested largely on convictions he received for trafficking cocaine and assault with a weapon.
His lawyer, Raj Sharma, tried appealing that order on compassionate grounds last year, arguing that Tran was the primary provider for his young stepsister and his mother, who was injured in a workplace accident and has little command of English.
The immigration board's appeal division rejected the application, ruling that Tran's ongoing involvement with the FOB Killers and the danger his criminal associations posed to his mother and stepsister outweigh any compassionate reasons for letting him stay.
January's federal court decision by Justice Judith Snider upheld that ruling.
Sharma said Tuesday evening that Tran “became the face of gangsterism and organized criminality in Calgary.”
That persona was an unfair one, Sharma said. Tran's criminal convictions were dated, relatively minor, and he received a conditional sentence for the drug convictions, he said.
Sharma also says the persona associated with Tran, and the general hype around gangs in Calgary, tipped the scales against his client and affected the decisions of the Immigration and Refugee Board.
“Look, Mr. Tran had the deck stacked against him from the very beginning,” Sharma said. “I don't think that anything he could have done, short of moving to a monastery, would have satisfied anyone that he warrants to stay in Canada.”
But an expert in immigration issues with the department of justice studies at Mount Royal University disputes the idea that Tran was unfairly labelled.
“I don't think he's been unfairly labelled or unfairly treated through the system,” Kelly Sundberg said. “I think the opposite, actually.”
Tran was also the subject of a second deportation order granted because he belongs to a criminal organization, the FOB Killers.
Sharma had asked the Federal Court for a judicial review of that order last fall.
While Tran's criminal convictions were never an issue during the deportation fight, he repeatedly denied belonging to the FOB Killers.
A war between FOB and the FOB Killers has been responsible for at least 25 homicides since 2002.
Canada Border Services Agency does not confirm deportations until the person arrives at their destination, due to the safety and security of their officers, according to spokeswoman Lisa White.
“We'll confirm the removal once it's taken place and that's usually when the person has arrived in the country that they're being deported to,” she said.
Jackie Tran Timeline
– 1993 — Tran, 11, arrives in Canada from Vietnam with his mother, later becoming a permanent resident. He never becomes a Canadian citizen which would have prevented his eventual deportation.
– 2004 — First ordered deported by the Immigration and Refugee Board after his conviction on two counts of cocaine trafficking and assault with a weapon.
– January 2008 — Police arrest Tran on an immigration warrant outside a funeral home after a visitation for the victim of a gang slaying. Tran is ordered to remain in custody for the duration of the deportation process. He applies to the Federal Court of Canada for a judicial review.
– October 2008 — Ordered released from custody on two $10,000 bonds; later arrested for an alleged breach of curfew.
– November 2008 — Tran is freed after immigration board ruling that police misidentified him on the night in question.
– March 2009 — Taken back in custody after breaching release conditions of his immigration warrant. Two days later he is released again.
– April 2009 — Tran's appeal of the removal order is denied by the immigration board.
– August 2009 — Deportation is postponed when the Federal Court issues a last-minute emergency stay that temporarily prevents his removal from Canada.
– September 2009 — Tran's lawyer, Raj Sharma, asks the Federal Court for a review of a second deportation order issued on the grounds that Tran belongs to a criminal organization, the FOB Killers.
– January 2010 — The Federal Court rules it will not review a 2004 order deporting Tran on the basis of “serious criminality,” ending his six-year fight to remain in Canada.
– March 2, 2010 — Tran is transported to the Calgary airport facing imminent deportation.
Compiled By Karen Crosby Source: Herald Archives