A Moncton family who moved to Canada from South Korea in 2003 is being ordered to leave the country by the end of the month because of their youngest son's illness.
Sung-Joo Maeng, 15, was diagnosed with autism and epilepsy at age five. His father, Tae-Shik Maeng, and his mother, Hee-Eun Jang, moved the family to Canada with the hope of getting help to treat their son's illnesses.
The family has owned and operated The Main Stop Oriental Market on West Main Street for several years.
Their oldest son, Jung-Joo, 19, — also known as John — is studying science at Dalhousie University in Halifax, with the goal of becoming a dentist.
But Citizenship and Immigration Canada has denied an extension to their temporary resident permit because of Sung-Joo's medical and education expenses, Moncton lawyer Nicole Druckman said Sunday.
"What's happened is the government has said, 'We've rendered a final decision on one of your applications. Your son is inadmissible because of his health condition, and therefore your whole family is inadmissible, and we're not renewing it anymore,'" Druckman said.
John said his family was devastated by the decision.
"As soon as we heard the news, I was crying and we were all upset," he said. "I mean, the result was already given so, I mean, there was nothing we could do."
The family has filed an application to stay in the country permanently on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.
Druckman, one of the lawyers advising the Maengs, said they're trying to stop the government from forcing the family to leave until a decision is made on that application.
"There's a lot at stake. We have clients here that have a business, a son in school at Dalhousie [University], and their son who's getting better," she said. "His condition in the last two or three years, we've been told by the workers, is better."
In the meantime, there are worries about what moving back to Korea could mean for Sung-Joo.
"We have made a special bond with each other, and I would be very upset to know what he would have to go through to go back to Korea, because it would be hard on him," Erin Leis, one of his support workers, said Sunday.
"Just all the change — it's hard for kids with autism."
The Maeng family has been given until June 30 to leave Canada.