An undocumented worker, whose arrest during an immigration raid that was filmed by a television crew last week in Vancouver, boarded a plane back to Mexico Wednesday.
Oscar Mata said he feels taken advantage of by the production company behind the Border Security: Canada's Front Line series after he was asked to sign a release form while in custody.
Mata said he signed the TV show's release form without understanding what it was. He said he was confused, and thought the producers were immigration officials.
"I don't want to be the face of illegal people," he said.
"Because people will say all the Mexicans come like that, and we're not just the Mexicans — we're too many people from lots of countries," he said.
'I don't want to be the face of illegal people.' —Oscar Mata, deported worker
Early Wednesday morning, friends and supporters accompanied Mata to Vancouver International Airport, where he readied for his 6 a.m. PT flight back to Mexico. He said the raid and subsequent deportation has turned his life upside down.
"I'm a hard worker, I have a career I had everything. Just because I lost my status, I lost everything."
Mata came to Canada five years ago and admits he stayed illegally after his student visa expired. He had been working at the construction site for three months when officers with Canada Border Services Agency arrived last week and arrested him and seven others suspected of violating immigration and work permit rules.
The arrests drew national interest and widespread criticism, due to the presence of a reality TV show's film crew during the raid. Documents obtained by CBC News showed that Public Safety Minister Vic Toews personally approved the collaboration between the Border Security show and the CBSA.
Toews defended his position Monday, stating that the show was a documentary of what CBSA officers encounter, and said "the privacy of individuals is protected at all times."