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Genetic Ancestry in Canadian Immigration

Canadian immigration officials have been trying to determine migrants' genetic ancestry to establish their nationalities in some cases, Vice reports.

Lawyer Subodh Bharati tells Vice that the Canada Border Services Agency has used such services in its bid to show that Franklin Godwin, a Liberian man he represents, is actually Nigerian. Godwin was granted permanent resident status in Canada in 1996, but authorities sought to deport him following a criminal conviction, Vice says. Liberian officials denied him entry twice — saying at one point that Godwin was not Liberian — and Vice says Canadian officials have now done DNA testing on Godwin and used ancestry websites to see where his relatives were from.

A CBSA spokesperson tells Vice he cannot comment on a particular case, but does say the agency uses DNA testing to confirm identity. "DNA testing is a measure that is used when other avenues have been exhausted," the spokesperson, Jayden Robertson, adds.

Another lawyer, Jared Will, who has also had clients undergo testing, calls the process "extorted consent," according to Vice, as the individuals are being held in detention and non-compliance can be used against them. Bharati adds that neither he nor Godwin have seen the test results and notes that establishing ethnic origin doesn't prove nationality.