News Local

American-born mother of two deported from Canada

By PETE FISHER, Northumberland Today

Tracy Michaelson sits at her motel where she is staying with her two children trying desperately to get back into Canada on September 3, 2017 in Alexandria Bay, New York. Michaelson has been booted from Canada for one year, even though one of her children has dual citizenship and the other is a Canadian citizen. Pete Fisher

Tracy Michaelson sits at her motel where she is staying with her two children trying desperately to get back into Canada on September 3, 2017 in Alexandria Bay, New York. Michaelson has been booted from Canada for one year, even though one of her children has dual citizenship and the other is a Canadian citizen. Pete Fisher

ALEXANDRIA BAY, N.Y. - A woman is only hours away from the street after, she says, the Canadian government turned its back on her and her two children.

American citizen Tracy Michaelson wanted to stay in Canada where one of her two young children was born, and where she has been living for a number of years, but the Canadian Border Services Agency had a different opinion and she was tossed from Canada along with her two children in August.

Since then she's been trying to find any way to come back to Canada.

As several thousand asylum seekers who crossed the border into Quebec from the U.S. this summer are set to receive welfare, Michaelson wonders why the government won't help her.

"I don't have an opinion politically on their situation, but I look at their position compared to mine and how I'm being denied at every turn and cannot get help and they're being handed welfare cheques and being allowed to stay until it gets worked out. Why can't I stay until my situation gets worked out?"

With one child having dual citizenship and the other Canadian, both children have been enrolled in the Canadian education system since they started school.

"I would think the needs of my two Canadian children would outweigh the risk of me, with no criminal record who has a sponsor and a town supporting me," she said. "This isn't fair to them. They didn't do anything."

Michaelson was born in Chicago. Her mom was from Scotland, her father from England and they immigrated to Canada where they married.

Because of her father's work, the family moved to the United States where Michaelson was born almost 40 years ago.

She has no family in the U.S, but members of her family still live in Canada and Michaelson spent many summers and holidays in Hastings.

She fell in love with a Canadian and the two were married in 2003 and lived in Canada, but moved back to the U.S. where they had their first son, Liam who is now 10 and has dual citizenship.

The love of Canada was still with them and the family moved back to Canada where they had a second child, Bradach, 7, who was born in Peterborough.

When she was in Canada after having her second child she applied for sponsorship to Canada.

She has receipts from Citizenship and Immigration Canada for $700 dated Aug.24, 2012 that were payment for her spousal sponsorship which would have given her resident status when it was processed. Unfortunately, even though she has the receipts for payment, she says the government told her the information was never received.

Things didn't work out for the couple and they went their separate ways.

There is no custody agreement, but Michaelson said she has the children most of the time.

She met another man who has two children and was in a common-law relationship with him until August, when she was told to leave Canada.

In August Michaelson was the intended recipient of a letter from the Canadian Border Services Agency requesting a meeting at their office in Kingston.

When she didn't receive the letter in time for the meeting because it was sent to the wrong address another one was sent and a meeting was set for July 4.

At the outset of the meeting, Michaelson said, the CBSA officer told her she could have her arrested immediately. Questions related to how long she was in Canada, why she was in Canada and about her life.

"I explained to her, but she knew I had been there for three years without status. I explained that I had filed my paperwork and had receipts to prove this."

"She pulled out e-mails from immigration stating there was no record of anything and basically didn't believe me."

Michaelson was told she would have to leave Canada before Aug. 15.

"She flat out told me there was nothing I could do. I couldn't change these circumstances. I was going to be issued a one-year exclusion," Michaelson said. "I panicked. I was devastated."

Michaelson was also dealing with MP Kim Rudd's office.

On Aug.15 at 7:30 a.m. Michaelson received a call from the CBSA agent who interviewed her stating there was a "stay" in the proceedings and she was allowed to stay for the time being. The agent would be in touch with her in the following days.

"Then on the Thursday (Aug. 17) she called and said "we've decided you need to leave. I'd like you at the border tomorrow (August 18)."

Shocked, Michaelson told the agent she wasn't prepared to leave in 24 hours, but on Aug.21 she went to the border with her partner and children to turn herself in to the authorities.

It was the same CBSA agent who interviewed her. After the paperwork they placed her in the CBSA cruiser. The agent advised her that her two children would not be crossing with her, even though her former husband had agreed the children could go.

"My kids instantly started bawling and I started," she said. -I said I'm not leaving without them."

After discussions and phone calls the children were allowed to leave with their mother.

Officials put the family of three in the vehicle and dropped them off at the U.S. border.

Michaelson has an exclusion order from Canada for one year.

At U.S. customs, officials let her use a phone because she had to call a cab as they didn't have a vehicle.

Since she has been at a motel in Alexandria Bay, friends and family members have been writing to MP Rudd's office along with Peterborough-Kawartha MP Maryam Monsef and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Jamie Simmons, Rudd's communications director, stated in an e-mail: "For obvious reasons of privacy, we cannot discuss individual constiuent files; other than to say that Ms. Michaelson was provided by our office with every possible help and support in regards to her issue. She is very aware of the reasons for her current circumstances."

Michaelson e-mailed Rudd's office Aug. 30 from her motel in the United States pleading for any type of help for her and her children.

Rudd's office response was, "There is nothing our office can do to expedite the TRP process; we could only get involved in matters where the individual(s) are facing immediate physical harm, unjustified persecution for political or religious reasons, or facing other similarly harsh circumstances. This of course would not be the case of someone being deported to the United States. The United States is a first-world democracy with equivalent standards of civil liberties, health care, etc. to Canada. It's our understanding that you were barred from even applying to returning to Canada for one year from the date of your deportation."

Rudd's office gave the link for the TRP and added there was a $200 fee with no specific processing time.

It could be hours away from the street for Michaelson. She doesn't want that for her children.

There is a GoFundMe to support Michaelson's fight to re-enter Canada with her two children.