A High Court judge has quashed a decision by the Immigration Division to deport an Islamic missionary and his wife who have three children who are Trinidad and Tobago citizens.
In a 34-page judgment, Justice Vasheist Kokaram ruled that the Immigration Division acted illegally and irrationally when it placed Hafiz Mohammed Rashid and his wife Inayat Fatima on orders of supervision and instructed them to purchase tickets to return to their native India, in April 2017.
Kokaram ruled that under immigration laws and regulations, the Division is required to institute a special inquiry to determine the couple’s immigration status and give them an opportunity to appeal the decision of the inquiry before moving to deport them.
He added, “The Division has used the order of supervision as a vehicle of convenience to usher an immigrant who may no longer have standing under the Immigration Act to leave this country.
“However, the procedure prescribed in the Act does not provide for any such process whereby an immigrant can be coerced to leave without being the subject of deportation or rejection order or special inquiry.”
Rashid and his wife arrived in Trinidad in 2002 to lecture at the Caroni Jamaah’ah and to work with the Anjuman Sunnat-ul-Jamaat Association (ASJA).
Their missionary permits expired in 2007 and they then applied for residency. However, their applications were rejected in 2009 and the then Minister of National Security, Martin Joseph, indicated that they would be allowed to reapply.
They were given multiple extensions before they were served with the supervision order and told to leave the country last year. During their stay the couple had three children, now ages 12, nine and seven.
Kokaram ruled that the Immigration Division failed to consider the effect on their children who are Trinidad and Tobago citizens.
The judge said, “Without any mechanisms to care for the children if the couple is to legitimately deported, it prima facie violates the principle that administrative decisions are to be taken having regard to the best interest of the child.”
Kokaram ordered that the passports of the missionaries be returned to them.
JUSTICE VASHEIST KOKARAM