Re Immigration Act and Hanna

21 Western Weekly Rep. 400 (1957)

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Re Immigration Act and Hanna

British Columbia Supreme Court
21 Western Weekly Rep. 400 (1957)

Facts

George Christian Hanna (plaintiff) was born on a ship while his mother traveled from Djibouti, French Somaliland (which would later become the Republic of Djibouti) to Liberia, where Hanna’s father had gone to find work. The ship returned to Djibouti, and Hanna’s birth remained undocumented. He lived with his mother, part of the time in Djibouti and part in Ethiopia (possibly his mother’s native country), until she died when he was six. Hanna’s father had predeceased his mother. Hanna survived mainly on his own after that, traveling between various North African countries. As Hanna grew older, he learned that he could not obtain the privileges of legal residence, let alone citizenship, in any of the countries because he lacked documentation of his birthplace. He stowed away on an Italian tramp steamer in Eritrea, hoping to go to a country that would give him legal immigrant status. The attempt resulted only in his imprisonment for immigrating illegally. He tried again, stowing away on a Norwegian steamer, the Gudveig, in Lebanon, but was quickly imprisoned on the ship when found there. When the ship arrived in British Columbia from the United Kingdom, Hanna sought immigrant status in Canada under the Immigration Act. The Canadian court issued a writ of habeas corpus to free him from imprisonment on the Gudveig. However, Canadian immigration officials (defendants) determined that as a stateless individual, Hanna should be deported to (1) the place where he had come from to Canada, (2) a country where he was a native or citizen, (3) the country of his birth, or (4) any location determined by the immigration minister. Hanna appealed the deportation order to the British Columbia Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Sullivan, J.)

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