Family denied immigration due to Down Syndrome

A New Democrat MP is demanding the federal government reverse a decision to bar a family from India from emigrating to Canada to join their son in B.C. because their adult daughter has Down Syndrome.

The son, Kevin Patel, of Vancouver, wanted to sponsor his parents and 27-year-old sister to come to Canada to become permanent residents.

But Immigration Canada rejected the request because it says the sister's condition could pose an excessive burden on Canada's health and social services.

NDP citizenship critic Don Davies says that conclusion is not supported by any facts, and in fact is contradicted by the evidence submitted in this case.

Davies told a news conference Friday that the refusal represents a bigoted and discriminatory view that's not in keeping with the modern understanding of people with Down.

The sister, Aditi Patel, lives with her parents who care for her, said Patel.

He said he promised Canadian officials he would cover the costs of any services his sister would require.

Barbara Laird, the parent of a daughter with Down Syndrome, also attended the news conference in support of Patel.

"They have huge potential. They have huge intelligence," laird said. "They do things really well, sometimes better than the rest of us. They are extremely undervalued from birth up."

Davies is calling on Immigration Minister Jason Kenney to reverse the decision and allow the family to be reunited in Canada.

Down Syndrome is a genetic condition estimated to occur in about one in every 733 births, although is statistically higher among older parents. It is associated with some impairment of cognitive ability and physical growth and a particular set of facial characteristics.

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