Hope, justice and the support of many friends: the Vigil Campaign is underway

Michelle Millard and Francisco Rico

Michelle Millard and Francisco Rico

By Rebeka Lauks

On March 24th, 2014, Francisco Rico-Martinez of the FCJ Refugee Centre and Michelle Millard of York University welcomed over 100 individuals to the official launch of the Vigil Campaign at the Church of the Holy Trinity. The Vigil Campaign has come together in support of Oscar Vigil, a loving husband, caring father, and valued member of the community.

Oscar and his family came to Canada in 2001 seeking refugee protection. While his wife and three children have all now received Canadian citizenship, Oscar has spent the last 13 years in legal status limbo and is now being threatened with deportation back to El Salvador. It is for this reason that the Vigil Campaign is presently mobilizing to increase public support for his case and to pressure the Minister to grant relief to Oscar so that he may remain in Canada with his family.

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Launching the Vigil Campaign

The Vigil Campaign is officially taking off today!

Come and learn about the problem of national security and “inadmissibility” in the refugee context.

  • The place: The Holy Trinity Church, 10 Trinity Square, Toronto (West of the Eaton Centre).
  • The time: 6:00 pm

Thank you everyone for your beautiful words of solidarity and support.

Looking forward to seeing all of you.

Here it is the program for today:

launching vigil campaign program

Signing the petition at Monsignor Romero Commemoration

Click on the images to enlarge.

You can also sign the petition here. Thank you.

“Does Ottawa believe the Salvadoran government is terrorist?”

El Salvador - CanadaUnder that sharp headline, Matthew Behrens publishes today at rabble.ca a very interesting and well documented article about the situation of Oscar Vigil and the double standard that is some times present in Canada’s immigration system.

You can read the whole article here. These are some excerpts:

[…] Against this backdrop, two Salvadorans who refused to participate in the U.S.- and Canadian-backed terrorist regime that ruled the country during the 1980s — and who, like thousands of their fellow Salvadorans, became associated with the FMLN — are now facing a Kafkaesque immigration nightmare. At the same time as Canada recognizes the FMLN government in San Salvador, it is trying to deport long-time Canadian residents Oscar Vigil of Toronto and Jose Figueroa of Langley, B.C., because of their former membership in the FMLN, claiming it is an organization “that there are reasonable grounds to believe engages, has engaged or will engage in acts” that include “espionage,” “terrorism,” and “subversion by force of any government.” […]

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The Oscar Vigil Case: Summary of the Legal Situation

Three Separate Issues


Oscar, his spouse Carolina, and their three children came to Canada in 2001. They have been here ever since.

Oscar was found to be inadmissible under Section 34(1)(f) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA). This section states that a person is inadmissible to Canada if s/he has ever been a member of an organization that has engaged in terrorism.

Oscar was a member of the FMLN which is currently the democratically elected government of El Salvador. Much like Nelson Mandella’s ANC in South Africa, the FMLN was an armed opposition prior to the Peace Accord in El Salvador. Although Oscar himself has never participated in any violent activities of any sort, the Canadian government says that Oscar was a member of a group that once engaged in terrorism.

As a result, the Canadian government denied Oscar his right to a refugee hearing. This led to the three separate legal applications that are described below.

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Oscar Vigil belongs to Canada

Oscar Vigil, on the right, during the citizenship ceremony of his family, on January 2014

Oscar Vigil, on the right, during the citizenship ceremony of his family, on January 2014

Oscar Vigil is a loving husband, a caring father, and valued member of the community. He is also a refugee claimant from El Salvador. Fearing for their safety, he fled his country in 2001 with his spouse Carolina, and their three children and came to Canada.They had received death threats as a result of their work as journalists.

Since then, his wife, their son and 2 daughters were granted refugee status, became permanent residents and now they all are Canadian citizens.

Now, Oscar has been denied refugee status and is being threatened with deportation back to El Salvador.

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