On Friday (March 18) Langley resident José Figueroa and his son José Ivan were scheduled to begin a cross-country trip to Ottawa to seek the overturn of his deportation to El Salvador.
Figueroa has been told it will be seven to nine years before there is a ruling on his application to the ministry of public safety for “ministerial relief” that would allow him to remain in Canada.
Under zero-tolerance guidelines imposed after the 911 terrorist attacks, Figueroa was declared undesirable because of his involvement as a student with the left-wing Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) during the civil war in El Salvador.
The Immigration and Refugee Board commissioner who made the ruling said that Figueroa was never involved in anything violent and noted that the FMLN is now the democratically-elected government of El Salvador, but the rules against links to any attempts to overthrow a government with force are very strict.
Figueroa, who lives in Langley with his wife and three Canadian-born children, plans to present a 1200-word petition and letters of support to Canadian government ministers and the El Salvadoran embassy when he arrives in Ottawa.
Because of the deportation decision, Figueroa and his family cannot get public health care coverage that would provide assistance to José Ivan, who is autistic.
“My family is being dragged to a physical, emotional and economic hardship that is undeserved,” the father said.
Figueroa and his supporters were trying to raise funds to rent a van for the trip, but as of Thursday, there wasn’t enough to cover the cost.
He and his son were planning to take a bus instead.
“We hope that by the end of the trip there will be a general understanding of the situation, and the community can raise their voice along with ours in order to find a solution,” Figueroa said.
“The hardship we have gone through as a family doesn’t have to happen to anybody else.”
Details of the trip will be posted on www.wearejose.com.