The Maengs are a South Korean family who have been living for the past eight and a half years in Moncton, New Brunswick. As CBC News reports, Tae-Shik Maeng and Hee-Eun Jang moved to Canada in search of better treatment for their son, Sung-Joo Maeng. Now 15 years old, Sung-Joo was diagnosed with autism and epilepsy at the age of 5.
But last week the Department of Citizenship and Immigration told them they must leave by the end of the month, because Sung-Joo’s care is “too expensive.”
The Maengs also have a 19-year-old son, Jung-Joo Maeng, who is studying science at Dalhousie University in Halifax. They have owned and operated Moncton’s Main Stop Oriental Market on West Main Street in Moncton since 2003. A regular customer, Mary Sullivan, was so outraged to hear about the family’s situation that, along with Scott Agnew, she started a Facebook page, Help the Maeng Family Stay in Canada. Says Agnew:
“These are the people we’re trying to attract. These are the people we need. Our population in New Brunswick is dwindling — we need to attract more immigrants the government knows that.”
“They’re putting money into attracting them. They did attract them and now the federal government is asking them to leave. It’s just ridiculous.”
Erin Leis, a family support worker with Access Home Care who has worked with Sung-Joo for the past two and a half years, has written a plea on behalf of the Maengs in the Daily Gleaner:
They are extremely hardworking, honest and loving people. They have been honest with the government in regards to Sung Joo’s disability the entire time they have lived in Canada (eight and a half years), during which they have tried to gain permanent residency. They have accepted with appreciation every condition and step the government has asked of them.
I don’t believe this action taken to remove them from Canada because of Sung Joo’s condition is appropriate. I don’t believe the family has been treated with fairness and respect by the government by telling them to leave in less than a month after living here so long and buying a business in Moncton.
I am writing to you on behalf of the family, asking you to support a motion in the legislature that demands a federal ministerial order of exception.
Reis underscores how the threat of deportation, not to mention the upheaval involved in moving back to South Korea, would seriously, and adversely, affect Sung-Joo. Indeed, such a move could potentially erase all the progress he has made:
A move like the government is suggesting would significantly set Sung Joo back in his development. Change is so difficult for children with autism, and to have almost every factor in his life change at the same time would most likely be extremely difficult for him.
As Sung Joo is non-verbal, he communicates in behaviours. This past week he has been engaging in self-injuring behaviours – in hitting himself on the arms and face as he tries to cope with the sense that something is not right within his family.
You can only imagine the distress he will feel if his family must leave everything that is familiar to Sung Joo here in Canada.
Take Action: Please support the Maengs and sign the petition to urge the Canadian government to grant a federal ministerial order of exception so they can stay in Canada; so Sung-Joo can continue to learn and grow.