I write with regard to “No End In Sight” [Aug. 22-Sept. 4], Vanda Schmöckel’s story on the Nigerian University of Regina students facing deportation for illegally working at Walmart, as I feel there are some errors and omissions in it.

The use of the term “unwittingly” is wrong. These young women knew the terms of their student authorizations. Both were told of the terms in person at the Canadian Consulate and probably at the port of entry. It is also written in their visas. Yet both failed to attend classes full time and both worked illegally. So mistake number one is to not accept responsibility for their actions. Had they done so initially, perhaps the U of R’s International Student Advisor could have intervened with the Immigration authorities and worked on getting them on a ministerial permit. Sadly, government downsizing has eliminated some of the people who made the system work in cases like this.

Mistake number two was to make a big deal out of this in the media. If we know anything about the Harper administration, it’s that they hate negative publicity and will often punish those who cause them to look bad. Sadly, I think this may have put paid to their chances.

Asking for an amnesty was also destined to be a failed attempt, as the government would be worried about the message being sent to the thousands of students who live by the terms of their visas. This mess also has the potential to reduce support for international students among the public and inside government. It also risks hardening attitudes in the bureaucracy.

Finally, why does Walmart get off so easy? For these women to work illegally, someone had to employ them illegally. Don’t tell me that big conglomerate doesn’t have the ability to tell when they might be looking at hiring someone who isn’t legally entitled to work in Canada. The media really dropped the ball on this side of the story.

The stakes are bigger than the fates of these two women. I can sympathize with their plight, but their government provided them with enough money to go to school (not a lot, but most students don’t have a lot either), so they listened to bad advice and made a choice which broke the law. This is not a trifling matter.

Perhaps Prairie Dog will investigate deeper in future. I expected better of you.

Robert Reid, Regina

This letter originally appeared on prairiedogmag.com.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Thank you for the letter, Robert. Vanda is in ongoing contact with Walmart but she wasn’t able to secure an interview with a representative of the company in time for last issue’s article. In its defence, Walmart has been very busy lately with union decertification at its Weyburn location. Regardless, Prairie Dog will continue to cover the ongoing story of Victoria Ordu and Favour Amadi — with or without comment from the company that hired them. /Stephen Whitworth


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