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.
Gabriela Gonzalez, Ontario’s premier assistant, at the solidarity event for Oscar Vigil
Opening remarks by Michele Millard
Gabriela Gonzalez with Juan Carranza and Oscar Vigil
Tanyu Band on stage
Enjoying good Latin American food
Chilean artist, painter and singer Luis Ramirez
Colombian poet and musician Andres Sucerkia
NDP MP for Davenport Andrew Cash
Over a hundred community activists, political leaders, artists and the public of many Latin American countries and Canada, joined together at the solidarity night
Robert Graham and Caitlin Holland
The Salvadoran Ambassador in Canada Oscar Mauricio Duarte, and MP Andrew Cash
Julia Huys explains the legal process, on behalf of Lorne Waldman
Vilma Filici reads a support letter from Toronto Councillor Joe Mihevc
Alejandra Bravo, Community leader and Ward 17 candidate
Duberlis Ramos, from the Hispanic Development Council
Dominican Republican poet Jose Toribio
Loly Rico and Francisco Rico, co-directors of the FCJ Refugee Centre, sold tickets for a surprise raffle
By Gilberto Rogel
Toronto.- Over a hundred community activists, political leaders, artists and the public of many Latin American countries and Canada, joined together this Saturday June 7 at a solidarity night to express their full support to the cause of the Salvadoran journalist Oscar Vigil, who is fighting, perhaps, the strongest and most complicated personal battle to stay in Canada and show the Federal Government its error in declaring him an inadmissible person living in the country.
“I am here to support the cause of Oscar. We need to let our authorities (Immigration) know that it is not possible that a hardworking man and father like Oscar can be treated as a terrorist. The authorities should not believe he was doing anything other than his job, because I am one who believes that the family must stay together if we want a better society,” said Jose Toribio, poet and activist member of the Dominican Republican community, who, with over 20 years living in Canada, cannot understand the decision of the Immigration authorities.
Together with Jose Toribio, many well-known politicians also showed up to confirm their commitment to the cause. Andrew Cash, Member of the Parliament for the New Democratic Party (NDP) representing the riding of Davenport (Toronto), was one of the first to arrive at Mingles Lounge, the place of celebration.
“They are going to break my family.” Oscar Vigil has built a reputation as a leader of the Hispanic community in Canada. Earlier this year, his wife and grown children became Canadian citizens. But, according to the Canadian government, because of his cooperation with revolutionary forces during El Salvador’s lengthy civil war, Mr. Vigil could be deported very soon.
It’s worth noting that El Salvador’s former revolutionaries now make up the country’s duly-elected government — and maintain full diplomatic relations with Canada.
Carol Off spoke with Oscar Vigil and his lawyer, Stephen Foster, in As It Happens, the long-running interview show on CBC Radio One.
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?”
Under 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.” […]
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.