Legal setback for Langley man fighting terrorist designation

Report declaring Jose Figueroa inadmissible was the only conclusion allowed under the law, judge rules

José Figueroa

The strict language of the law left an immigration officer with no alternative but to file a report that Langley resident Jose Figueroa was inadmissible to Canada because of ties to a terrorist group.

That was the finding of a federal court judge in rejecting Figueroa’s application to have the 2009 report thrown out.

The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act doesn’t allow “any room to manoeuvre,” Justice Yvan Roy said in the Dec. 20 judgment, which was posted online Monday.

The law says anyone who belongs to a group “engaging in or instigating the subversion by force of any government” is inadmissible to Canada.

“What they are saying is, that’s how the law is,” said Figueroa, who is now studying to become a lawyer and represented himself at the court hearing.

“It is disappointing,” Figueroa told the Times.

He hasn’t decided whether to appeal.

The report in question led to an order to deport Figueroa, who was granted sanctuary at the Walnut Grove Lutheran Church in Langley.

He stayed there for more than two years until the order was lifted in late 2015 on humanitarian and compassionate grounds by the immigration minister.

Figueroa, who now has permanent resident status, said he filed his application because the existence of the report could hamper his application to become a full Canadian citizen.

Judge Roy noted Figueroa was not involved in violence against the government of El Salvador when he was a student.

But since some elements of the group Figueroa belonged to, the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) were violent, that was enough to make him inadmissible.

The judge said a report by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) recommending Figueroa’s expulsion described the FMLN as “an alliance of guerrilla groups (whose) declared objective was to wage a protracted guerrilla war against the government of El Salvador.”

The agency said the FMLN campaign included, “… the kidnapping of small town mayors, the laying of “people’s mines” designed to maim, interruption of traffic, and sabotage of electricity lines and utilities.”

The FMLN, the CSIS report added, “abandoned military/terrorist activities in the late 1980s and joined with the government of El Salvador to participate in the democratic process. Former senior members of the FMLN now form part of the new government.