A south Sudanese man who played for a high school basketball team in Windsor, Ont. was detained last week for posing as a teenager.
Jonathan Nicola told the Immigration and Refugee board on April 19 that he actually does not know his real age, adding that his mother has never told him his birthday.
“I do not know, I really do not know what is my real age, I cannot tell you what my real age is,” Nicola said at the hearing, according to transcripts provided to CBC News by the Immigration Refugee Board. “My mom always [kept] telling us different [ages]. I do not remember what specific age.”
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) April 21, 2016
Nicola has attended Catholic Central high school (on a scholarship) since November 2015; he was detained by CBSA officials on April 15 and will stay in custody until May 24, according to CBC News.
However, there’s a chance that he might have his hearing earlier, which would determine whether he can stay in Canada.
According to Yahoo Sports, Nicola’s situation came to light when the coach at the school helped him with a paperwork which would have allowed him to travel with the rest of the basketball team to the U.S.
They were planning to partake in U.S. basketball games.
When Nicola applied for a U.S. visitor visa in April, his fingerprints matched an individual who had already applied for a U.S. visa in 2007 with a birth date of November 1986, according to Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).
What added fuel to fire was when CBSA noticed his passport to Canada said he was born Nov. 25, 1998.
They came to the conclusion that Nicola is 29 years of age but was posing as a 17-year-old.
— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) April 21, 2016
Based on the information that was gathered, the U.S. officials flagged the discrepancy and refused Nicola’s entry, CBC News reported; he was considered a flight risk.
According to CBC News, Nicola’s father is a mechanical engineer in Saudi Arabia, so the board indicated that his parents—along with Nicola, would have known his birthday.
Nicola who stands 6-foot-9 later admitted that all he ever wanted was to further his education and help support his family in South Sudan.
“All my goal is to study and get the education,” he said, “so I can go back home, I can help my mother, I can help all my rest of the family.”
Valerie Currie, an adjudicator, was not fazed by Nicola’s confession saying, “You have misrepresented yourself and you have been untruthful in order to achieve your goals and that shows considerable disrespect for the laws of Canada, specifically the immigration laws of Canada.
“Those circumstances suggests to me that you are a person who cannot be trusted to comply with the laws of Canada,” she said.
Currie also admitted that she “understand” Nicola’s desire to help his family, “but the way you have gone about doing that is frankly, quite illegal,” she said.
— JordanCaschera (@TheRealCaschera) April 21, 2016