Judge’s ruling may help Oscar Vigil stay in Canada

By Oakland Ross, Toronto Star. Published on July 23, 2014

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.

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Judicial review granted for Jose Figueroa

Jose Fuigueroa an his family. Photo: We Are Jose / Facebook

Jose Fuigueroa an his family. Photo: We Are Jose / Facebook

Good news for our friend Jose Figueroa, who is also fighting what would be an unfair deportation: The Federal Court has decided that his application for judicial review is granted and remitted for reconsideration by a different officer. In the text of the decision, the Honourable Mr. Justice Mosley states:

The Delegate unreasonably referred to the FMLN as a “terrorist organization”. That term is not used in s 34 and is not a term of art employed by the statute. The IRPA refers to membership in an organization that has, is or will engage in acts of terrorism. The FMLN was never a group for which political terror was a primary tactic. It had broad popular support and has now formed the government elected through democratic means. The organization attracted 80-100,000 members in a country of 5 million population. It was a broad based legitimate resistance group. The armed elements of the FMLN were primarily military forces engaged in a civil war against an oppressive regime much like the African National Congress in South Africa’s struggle against apartheid. The FMLN has not been proscribed as a “terrorist entity” on the list maintained by the Government of Canada. The Government of Canada carries on normal relations with the Government of El Salvador, now led by the FMLN. Some consideration should have been given to all of this before the Delegate concluded that the applicant’s membership in the FMLN was of such a serious nature that it outweighed the positive humanitarian and compassionate factors in favour of granting the applicant an exemption.

Here is the whole text of the Federal Court Decision:

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