Salvadoran avoids deportation in Langley church
Jose Figueroa was ordered to return to El Salvador in 2010
A Salvadoran refugee claimant who the Canadian government has marked for deportation is now seeking sanctuary in a Metro Vancouver church.
Jose Figueroa has lived in Langley for 16 years and has three Canadian-born children with his wife.
In 2010, however, the Immigration and Refugee board ruled that Figueroa must return to his native El Salvador because of his ties to former guerrilla group FMLN, who the federal government considers a terrorist organization.
The FMLN fought a bloody civil war with that country's right-wing militias in the 1980s, but is currently the ruling political party of El Salvador.
If you leave, what happens? My application is piled up under the rug and then what happens is, I won't be able to look at my children.- Refugee claimant Jose Figueroa
Figueroa has admitted he was a student member of the FMLN but has denied participating in the paramilitary campaigns of the group.
Last week, Figueroa was issued deportation papers. He is currently seeking refuge in the Walnut Grove Lutheran Church in Langley in a last ditch effort to avoid being detained by the Canadian Border Services Agency and deported.
"This fight for justice for my family has to be done here from within Canada," he said.
"If you leave, what happens? My application is piled up under the rug and then what happens is, I won't be able to look at my children."
Karl Keller, the pastor at Walnut Grove Lutheran, says that Figueroa's fight to stay in Canada is good for all Salvadoran refugees, and the church will support him.
"We are trusting that this is going to be for something good, for a good cause. Not just their family, but for other Salvadorans," Keller said.
"Figueroa is welcome to stay at the church as long as he wants, but if he steps out these doors, it opens the doors for the CBSA to deport him."