Chinese citizen from Kelowna may not be deported for drug trafficking conviction after all | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Chinese citizen from Kelowna may not be deported for drug trafficking conviction after all

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KELOWNA - A Chinese immigrant who lived in Kelowna when he sold cocaine to an undercover officer has had his sentence reduced after the court realized he could be deported.

Wing Wha Wong was 50 years old when he sold cocaine to an undercover Kelowna RCMP officer in 2012 as part of a dial-a-dope operation. Wong pleaded guilty to the offence in 2014, but in appeals he's made since then, Wong has argued that his lawyer never advised him that any sentence over six months could jeopardize his immigration status.

Even though Wong already served his ninth-month sentence he was handed, the B.C. Court of Appeals granted Wong's application to have the sentence reduced to six months less a day.

"The Court of Appeal has the authority to vary a sentence where the sentencing judge was unaware of the collateral immigration consequences and the new sentence otherwise is proportionate to the gravity of the offence and the degree of responsibility of the offender," the decision reads. "In this case, taking the collateral consequences into account, an appropriate sentence is six months less one day."

Wong came to Canada in 1990 and has worked full time for most of the time since. He has limited English language abilities and worked primarily as a cook. Wong sponsored his wife to come to Canada in 2006 and together they have a child.

Wong became aware of the immigration problems when he was released from prison and received a call from Canada Border Services advising him of an upcoming hearing. Canada has automatic immigration hearings and likely deportation for permanent residents if they are convicted of serious crimes or attract specific sentences.

Just because Wong's sentence was reduced does not guarantee he will keep his immigration status in Canada.

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