U.S. man who repeatedly enters Canada illegally following deportation gets two years

A U.S. man who has repeatedly re-entered Canada to see his wife and two kids after being deported has been sentenced to the maximum two years in prison on immigration charges.

In August 2019, the Canada Border Services Agency received a tip that Stephen Anthony Polnac, 53, was living at a home in Vancouver.

Officers found Polnac, who has a common-law wife and two children living in B.C., to be in the presence of several children. The officers arrested him after he left the residence.

In August of this year, Polnac pleaded guilty to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act offence of returning to Canada after being deported. His jury trial had been scheduled for October.

At the sentencing hearing Monday in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver, Justice Geoffrey Gomery was told that Polnac had been deported seven times previously, going back to 2004.

Each time he was deported, he stubbornly returned to Canada to visit his family.

The amount of jail time he has received for the repeated offences has increased over time until he reached the maximum of two years in 2017, the most recent prior offence.

Among the claims he has made is that he was a “heroic political prisoner,” a submission that was rejected by the court.

Polnac’s lawyers argued that being incarcerated during the COVID-19 pandemic was an undue hardship, given that there have been a number of lockdowns in prison and the fact that he has not been able to receive visits from his wife and children.

The judge agreed that being in prison during the pandemic is difficult, but found that it doesn’t amount to an exceptional hardship. He questioned the submission that it was a hardship not to see his family since his insistence on coming back to Canada to see his family is what keeps getting him into trouble.

The courts have heard that he fathered the children despite knowing he was illegally in Canada at the time and subject to being deported.

The judge sentenced Polnac, who appeared by video link from prison on Monday, to the maximum of two years in jail with 110 days of jail time remaining after he gets credit for pre-sentence custody.

“Mr. Polnac, you know this, but I will say it anyway,” the judge told him. “You must stop coming into Canada illegally. It serves you no good. It serves your family no good. It’s against the law. Please stop doing that.”

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