Toddler hasn’t seen mother in five months
A Saint Lazare father and his 3-year-old daughter are awaiting word from Canadian immigration officials as to when, and if, the child’s mother can return to their home after being banned from the country since August.
In the meantime, they are hoping she can come back to Canada as a visitor while the couple undergoes the lengthy process that would allow her to become a permanent resident.
Paul Bradshaw and Jennifer Eckert, who are not married, have lived together in Saint Lazare since 2003. But Eckert, an American citizen, was denied entry back into Canada in August, 2015 after the family returned to Canada following a visit to her Pennsylvania hometown.
Other than a short trip to the U.S. in December, their daughter, Kathryn, who will turn 4 next month, hasn’t seen her mother.
Eckert gave birth to Kathryn in Canada.
“Kathryn cries for her mother all the time,” Bradshaw said this week from his Saint Lazare home.
Though they video conference on a regular basis, he said both mother and daughter routinely end up in tears.
“Kathryn always asks why she can’t come home and Jennifer has a hard time keeping it together,” he said.
Bradshaw says he has hired an immigration lawyer to complete the lengthy and expensive process of trying to obtain permanent resident status for Eckert.
But he wonders why his daughter’s mother can’t return to Canada with a visitors’s visa while they complete everything.
“We were recently asked to submit a whole bunch of stuff that will take a while to collect. I have to include tax assessments for the last four years, a long form birth certificate for Kathryn, pictures spanning our entire relationship explaining who’s in each photo, what we were doing. I have to get letters from people who’ve known us more than five years,” Bradshaw said. And while he says he devotes hours to gathering the requested documents, some are taking longer than anticipated to obtain.
Bradshaw has also reached out to Vaudreuil-Soulanges MP Peter Schiefke’s office.
He said they contacted him when his story first became public.
Jennifer Frezza, Schiefke’s Communications Director and Constituency Liaison said they are watching the case closely but there is little they can do at this point.
“We sympathize with the family very much and encourage Mr. Bradshaw to follow the immigration process, which is the same for everyone, through to the end,” she said.
Left at border
According to Bradshaw, Canadian border guards told Eckert she was being refused re-entry in August as she seemed to be trying to skirt the system.
Though she had lived in Canada for 13-years without incident, the couple didn’t apply for Eckert’s permanent resident status because they thought she didn’t qualify.
Bradshaw was under the impression he didn’t make enough money.
He also points to prohibitive application costs that were a strain for the single income family.
Instead, they did what they thought was within the rules for legal visitors to Canada by going back to the states every 180 days.
Bradshaw’s days are now spent caring for Kathryn while running a cell phone repair business out of his home.
He admits he’s very frustrated with a system that can separate a mother from her child.
“She wasn’t convicted of any crimes or even caught working illegally or anything. She just wants to come home while we do the paperwork and be a mother to her daughter who’s the one really caught in the middle here.”