A recent Federal Court ruling spells potential good news for two men who face deportation from Canada as “terrorists” because they once supported a rebel organization that is now the democratically elected government of their former land.
“I think it’s very helpful,” said Lorne Waldman, a Toronto immigration lawyer representing Oscar Vigil, the former executive director of the Canadian Hispanic Congress. Vigil has been declared “inadmissible” to Canada over his ties to the leftist Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front that now governs El Salvador.
Waldman was referring to a ruling handed down this month by Federal Court Justice Richard G. Mosley, ordering the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration to take a second look at a case involving another Salvadoran man who has also been deemed inadmissible to Canada, for reasons very similar to those affecting Vigil.
Mosley aimed some harsh language at Karine Roy-Tremblay, a senior bureaucrat in the Immigration Ministry, who in March 2013 denied an application by Jose Luis Figueroa of Vancouver to be allowed to remain in Canada on compassionate grounds.
In his ruling, Mosley used words such as “unreasonable,” “facile,” and “simply not good enough” to describe Roy-Tremblay’s decision. He also rejected her description of the FMLN as a terrorist organization and dismissed her conclusion that Figueroa poses a security risk to Canadians.
This Wednesday, NDP MP for Davenport Andrew Cash asked the Conservative government to overturn a removal order for Oscar Vigil.
Oscar Vigil is a journalist from El Salvador who fled death threats and sought refugee status in Canada in 2001. His wife and three children have since been accepted by Canada’s immigrations services and have become Canadian citizens, but Vigil has been denied.
“The role of the Minister for Immigration should be to protect families, not break them up,” Andrew Cash asked in the House of Commons, “The Minister has the authority to reverse this deportation and keep this family together, will he do so?”
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.
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.