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Halifax activists support Salvadoran refugee facing deportation

Vigil to draw attention to Canada's aggressive anti-refugee stance

by Robert Devet

Figueroa family inside Walnut Grove Lutheran Church,  Struggling to remain together as a family in Canada.  Photo Facebook we Are Jose
Figueroa family inside Walnut Grove Lutheran Church, Struggling to remain together as a family in Canada. Photo Facebook we Are Jose
Halifax activists support Salvadoran refugee facing deportation

K'JIPUKTUK, HALIFAX -  For Jose Figueroa this Monday may well mark the end of a Canadian journey that started over fifteen years ago.

On that day a British Columbia appeal court will decide whether Salvadoran refugee Figueroa will be allowed to remain in Canada, or whether he will deported.

"If Figueroa is deported that will essentially split the family apart," Ruth Bishop, a Halifax-based member of the group We Are Jose tells the Halifax Media Co-op.

During a long and very violent civil war in El Salvador that ended in 1992 Figueroa was a member of the FMLN, an umbrella opposition group that fought the ruthless military junta that held power at the time.

Figueroa and his wife fled to Canada in the aftermath of the civil war, not feeling safe in El Salvador. His three children are born here and hold Canadian citizenship.

Figueroa is subject to the deportation order because of his former membership in the FMLN. The Canadian government considers the FMLN to have been a terrorist organization.

Supporters of Figueroa argue that he never held arms, and that In fact the current democratically elected government in El Salvador is FMLN.

After the deportation order was issued, Figueroa, a resident of British Columbia, sought sanctuary in a church in Langley, British Columbia. This is where he has lived for the last seven months.

Now the fear is that if Figueroa loses his appeal the Canadian Border Services agency will invade sanctuary and deport Jose.

For Bishop this is part of a trend.

"The Canadian government is increasingly targeting immigrants for deportation," says Bishop. "This is unjust, and this is uncanadian.  These are people who have every right to be in the country."

"I suspect that the focus is shifting towards immigrants with a lot of money, as opposed to the traditional approach where we accepted people who were fleeing unjust situations."

Bishop is one of the organizers of an event this Saturday in support of Figueroa and the many other refugees in similar situations. Halifax MP Megan Leslie and immigration lawyer Lee Cohen will speak. The event is supported by the Halifax Refugee Clinic and the Atlantic chapter of Kairos Canada.

"It will be an opportunity for people to learn a bit more about the situation across the country," say Bishop. "But also it is a time for us to come together as a caring community."


See also: Rally against planned deportation of Salvadoran Refugee, long time BC family man

Follow Robert Devet on Twitter @DevetRobert



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