Langley Times

Rally for Langley man fighting deportation

About 20 supporters of Langley resident José Figueroa and his fight against deportation staged a quiet rally outside the offices of Langley MP Mark Warawa Wednesday afternoon.

Figueroa attended the candlelight vigil and obtained an impromptu meeting with Warawa, who promised he will hand a letter from José and his wife Ivania to Public Safety minister Vic Toews in Ottawa.

"I will hand-deliver this to the minister on the 28th," Warawa told Figueroa outside his office entrance.

"Your children are Canadian and I will advocate for your family to stay in Canada."

Warawa also said he would investigate the status of the appeal for ministerial relief from the deportation order that was filed by the family two years ago.

"That's a gesture that we truly appreciate," Figueroa said.

The letter appeals to the minister to overturn an immigration appeal board decision to send Figueroa, a married father of three Canadian-born children, back to El Salvador.

"We are appealing to your sense of justice to bring this issue to an end so that we can resume our normal lives," the Figueroas wrote.

"You and the minister of immigration have in your hands a solution to our ordeal."

Figueroa was ordered deported for belonging to the left-wing Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), a group linked to violent acts against the regime that ruled the country during the civil war from 1980 to 1992.

Even though the FMLN went on to win a nonviolent and democratic election to become the government of El Salvador and even though the government of Canada has formally recognized the FMLN, the immigration laws still consider it a terrorist group.

Vigils were held in other BC communities and across Canada and in New Zealand to mark the two-year anniversary of the “We Are Jose” campaign launched by Figueroa supporters seeking to overturn the deportation order.

They were timed to coincide with the Jan. 16 anniversary of the end of the   civil war in El Salvador.

On Wednesday, the Figueroas confirmed that they were recently granted health care coverage after 15 years in Canada, a decision that will allow Ivania Figueroa to finally have some long-postponed surgeries.

"That was a big battle," José Figueroa said.

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