Dear Minister Blaney,
We write to appeal to you on behalf of an innocent person, a father of three beautiful Canadian children, and a valued member of Walnut Grove Lutheran Church and the Immigrant community—someone who has never been accused of any wrongdoing, but who faces deportation due only to the overly broad definition of terrorism in our legislation.
We are referring to a 16 year resident of Langley BC, Jose Figueroa. Mr. Figueroa has lived in Canada since 1997. He was deemed inadmissible and now faces deportation. The sole basis for excluding Jose from Canada is his membership in the FMLN, a rebel organization in El Salvador that fought on behalf of the vast majority of Salvadorans against a murderous and repressive military regime. The FMLN is now the democratically elected Government of El Salvador. To characterize the FMLN as a terrorist organization is a gross misuse of the term and a kind of collective character assassination of the majority of Salvadorans who suffered brutal military repression.
We indeed agree that to keep Canada secure we should not allow terrorists into this country. We also believe that we should cast the net broadly to ensure this end. But we also think appropriate discretion is necessary when we deal with individual cases. Most of the human rights abuses in El Salvador in the 1980s were committed by the armed forces. A very small number of abuses occurred at the hands of the FMLN. Jose had no part in any acts of violence whatsoever, indeed he was not a combatant at all. His role was to recruit people into the resistance—at considerable risk to himself and his family.
To remove Jose from Canada today would divide a family and separate a father from his children, or force the children to leave the country of their birth in order to be with their father. What kind of country are we? Are we a place that acts with such callous indifference? Surely we are not.
We, the Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE), respectfully request that you intervene on behalf of Mr. Figueroa and allow him to stay with his family in Canada based upon humanitarian and compassionate grounds as the removal of Jose Figueroa from Canada in January 2014 will cause great emotional loss and devastation to his family and to him as well as to the immigrant community in Canada and more specifically in British Columbia. In addition, the deportation of Jose Figueroa would place a dark mark on Canada’s reputation around the world.
We look forward to a positive reply from your Ministry and to the timely incorporation of Jose Figueroa to his family and the immigrant community working with the Walnut Grove Lutheran Church in Langley, BC.
Thank you very much for your immediate attention to this urgent request.
Tim Louis, Internal Chair
Coalition of Progressive Electors, COPE
Vancouver, BC Canada
Cc: The Hon. Chris Alexander, PC, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration
His Excellency, Oscar Duarte, Ambassador of El Salvador to Canada
Don Davies, NDP, MP
Jose Figueroa Family