After more than 10 years of fighting, finally some vindication.
On January 13th, our Federal Court appeal hearing was held. On February 4th, the judge ruled in Widlene's favor! That is right. Everything that we have been saying for a decade now has the weight of the federal court behind it. We were confident that we would win the decision, but what we really needed was for the judge to write his judgement in such a way that it really left IRCC with no choice but to grant a Visa.
Here are some highlights from the actual ruling...
"The Officer’s justifications for refusing a TRP for Widlene are, in the main, incoherent or profoundly inconsistent with the presented evidence."
"...the Officer almost entirely ignored Widlene’s personal circumstances."
"Nowhere in the Officer’s analysis is there any consideration of the benefits to Widlene of enjoying a stable and loving family life in Canada in contrast to the instability, risks and deprivations she has faced and would likely face in either the Dominican Republic or Haiti."
"The Officer’s legalistic concerns about the form of the guardianship documents the Earles had submitted provided no sound basis for ignoring the stated wishes of Widlene’s grandmother and sister."
"The fact that, until the Earles came along, Widlene was living in poverty should have been a significant concern. Instead, that fact was effectively ignored."
"The Officer’s fixation with the possibility of adoption is perplexing. No reasonable assessment of this record would lead to the conclusion that adoption was a viable option in this case."
"There was, on the record, no reasonable basis for thinking that what had been generously done by the Earles for a decade would somehow evaporate upon a return to Canada. This concern is a “straw man” of the first order."
"Mr. Earle wants to bring Widlene to Canada and she wants that, too. The time has assuredly come for someone to take a holistic and full-fledged humanitarian and compassionate review focussed on Widlene’s circumstances and needs."
Where does this leave us?
Well, that is the most difficult part of this update. The federal court judge has the authority to overturn a decision, which he did. He does not, however, have the capacity to actually grant a visa. As soon as the appeal was granted, the file was sent back to the immigration department for them to take another look and render a new decision, with two specific guidelines.
1. The file has to be reviewed by a decision maker who has not been a part of the previous decision and/or biased by it in any way. (Good luck with that)
2. The application cannot be rejected for reasons already deemed unacceptable by the federal court judge.
That is the good news!!!
The bad news?
As unbelievable as this sounds, there is absolutely no time constraints on the new decision. Although it is regarding a minor who's life is in danger, the visa office can take as long as they want to do this.
In summary, we beat Ahmed Hussen and IRCC in Federal Court and still have no visa for Widlene.
In the meantime, keep your eyes open for more updates.
... Imagine if a National investigative journalism team were to do a one hour special exposing the underbelly of this story or if there was a "tell all" book coming...
Like I said, keep your eyes open because this is far from over.