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He had dreams of running for Canada in the Olympics, then he learned his family would be deported

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A burgeoning track star says his dream of going to the Olympics is being derailed by a deportation order after Immigration officials rejected his family’s claim for asylum

Tamarri Lindo, 20, who competes for York University, is one of the country's top-ranked hurdlers at the collegiate level. He dreamed of representing Canada at the Olympics since he caught the eye of scouts while in high school and was awarded a $2,500 scholarship. He recently won a bronze medal at the national championships in the 60-metres hurdles, and was hoping to compete at qualifying events for the Olympics later in May.

Tamarri hoped a strong performance at the races would bolster his family’s case to become permanent residents.

But that dream has been put on hold after the family received a notice of deportation from the Canada Border Services Agency on Monday.

CBSA had an order to deport them by May 24. But on Thursday CBSA officials agreed to extend the deportation deadline by thirty days.

The reprieve does little to lift Tamarri’ spirits.

“My goal was to make the 2024 Paris Olympics. But now, it feels like everything is being taken away,” said Tamarri in an interview with CTV National News.

“I feel like I could have a mental health breakdown. My heart is sinking.”

Tamarri says he remembers leaving school in Kingston, Jamaica with his younger sister and brother and being warned that “people wanted to shoot up their car.”

“How can they send us back?’ Tamarri wonders.

'A death trap': Stories of threats and attempted murder

When the family arrived in Toronto in April 2019, Lindo’s father George filed a refugee claim for political asylum. The claim, provided to CTV News, detailed a history of alleged violence beginning in 2012.

George Lindo said his family was targeted by gangs, who supported the ruling party, because he was successful at getting out the vote for the opposition, the People’s National Party. 

“I organize the drivers. I am the leader and they go out and get people to vote," he said. 

In his claim, George says that his neck was slashed during the 2012 election while he tried to disperse a crowd gathered outside his home. He has a visible scar under his chin.

He believes he may have also been the target of a botched assassination attempt in 2016 after a man was gunned down in the seat at the bar, where he was sitting, moments after he left the establishment.

And then in 2019, George says, he was followed by two men brandishing guns.

Following that incident, he says, he decided to take his family and flee to Canada until the “situation cooled down.” Two days after they landed at Pearson International Airport, the family says they received news that a policeman who was helping to protect them was shot to death. That’s when George said he decided to seek asylum for his wife and three children in Canada. Since then, their family has grown after his wife gave birth to another daughter

“She’s Canadian. She’s a light,” said Lindo, referring to his youngest daughter. “I tell you, going back there would be a death trap."

Immigration Officials reject claims

In its pre-removal risk assessment, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada found that the violence experienced by George Lindo could not be directly linked to his political activism.

“I find that the applicants have provided little documentary evidence to demonstrate that they are at risk of harm or persecution in Jamaica as a result of (Lindo’s) political activity,” concluded a senior immigration officer identified only as “C4095.” 

IRCC says an officer’s legal name is often redacted from public-facing documents to protect the privacy and security of decision makers.

“Crime, including murder, is widespread throughout Jamaica - any risk they face is not personalized, it’s one shared generally by all persons living in Jamaica.”

Officer C4905 noted that conditions in Jamaica may have improved since the Lindos left.

“The Jamaican authorities are taking steps to reduce crime, corruption and violence in the country, including pushing legislative reforms and modernizing the Constabulary force,” they wrote.

The Lindo family’s claims have been rejected three times. Firstly, because they are not considered conventional refugees. They were also found ineligible on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

The pre-removal risk assessment completed by IRCC in March 2023 upheld the two previous decisions.

Now, more than a year later, the Canada Border Services Agency has begun carrying out the deportation order. However, the Lindos have one last avenue to appeal through the Federal Court.

“The fact that they are doing this is unconscionable,” said immigration lawyer Aidan Simardone.

“It goes against our Canadian values of providing people their fair opportunities and providing protection to people who are in danger in other countries.”

Simardone has filed for a judicial review of  the application. It is the family’s last hope to stay in Canada, and Tamarri Lindo fears it's his last hope of sprinting to a finish line wearing the maple leaf. 

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