The Immigration and Refugee Board recently granted refugee status to Brandon Huntley, 31, a South African native who has been living illegally in Canada.
The board decided to let him live and work legally in Canada after Huntley argued he had been the victim of racial violence and discrimination in South Africa. The board operates independently of the Canadian government.
The ruling African National Congress in South Africa blasted the decision as racist and said it would "only serve to perpetuate racism."
Now the Canadian government plans to ask federal courts to overturn the decision, said Alykhan Velshi, a spokesman for Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.
"It's important to stress that this isn't the minister's decision nor that of the government," Velshi said in a statement Friday. "It was a decision taken by the quasi-judicial, independent Immigration and Refugee Board. I will leave it to them to defend the quality of their decisions."
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