Yukon boy caught in limbo as parents face deportation

An immigrant family in Whitehorse is facing a wrenching choice: either deprive their disabled son of his parents or deprive him of appropriate medical care. Yukon MP Ryan Leef is vowing to help.

Family says their 3-year-old disabled son won't get appropriate medical care in Mexico

Jonathan Rojas was born in Whitehorse with a malformed skull. He had to wear a helmet for the first years of his life to help reshape his skull. (Sergio Rojas)

An immigrant family who live in Whitehorse is being deported from Canada and two parents are now facing an unimaginable decision regarding their youngest son.

Sergio Rojas is from Mexico and his partner Linda Martinez is from Nicaragua.

The couple have a seven-year-old boy who was born outside of Canada.   

Sergio Rojas says he can't leave his baby behind. (Wayne Vallevand/CBC)
Their three year-old son, Jonathan, was born in Yukon and is a Canadian citizen. He has a malformed skull which requires medical care. 

The couple had applied for residency in Canada under compassionate and humanitarian grounds but were denied. They've been told they have to leave the country on March 4. 

Pediatricians and therapists have told the couple their son won't receive proper medical care if they return to Central America.

'You have two choices'

Rojas says an immigration officer in Vancouver told the couple they could leave Jonathan in Canada.

"Ten days ago immigration called me and says 'you have to leave, you have two choices. We know he's sick, but you have two choices: You can leave him here, or you can take him."

We cannot leave members of our family. But they say leave it or take it. This is not a good situation for us- Sergio Rojas, father of three-year-old Jonathan

"This is not a choice for us," said a tearful Rojas.

"We cannot leave members of our family. But they say leave it or take it. This is not a good situation for us." 

Jonathan has been diagnosed with plagiocephaly and torticollis which is a type of muscle paralysis. He receives treatment at B.C. Children's Hospital in Vancouver and gets daily therapy at the Child Development Centre in Whitehorse where he's learning to walk and talk.

"He's in a special program eight hours a day, he receives all the care here. And the pediatrician told me to don't move out," said Rojas.

The family has been in Canada for several years. Rojas is from Mexico but his family now all live in the United States.

Martinez has no family in Nicaragua.

Rojas says he can't understand why his three-year-old son is being penalized.

"Jonathan was born here. He needs you. He needs the government," said Rojas.  "We don't ask for money, we don't ask for anything. Only for his health."

Reaction swift

After CBC Northbeat aired the story on Friday, reaction on social media was swift.

Yukon MP Ryan Leef met with the family twice during the weekend. He says the family had first sought assistance from his office in September. 

Mother Linda Martinez is shown with sons Sergio Jr. and Jonathan in Whitehorse. (Sergio Rojas)
Leef says he'll meet with Immigration Minister Chris Alexander on Monday and pledges to fight for the family's right to remain in Canada.

"Everything I've seen to this point, they've been compliant with all the requests that Canada has made, they've been diligent in their efforts to provide the information and follow the process. I'm identifying some gaps in the information that could be beneficial to their case. Our office is going to work exceptionally hard to help them work through something that they would have a challenge working through on their own." 

Leef says it's a serious case with a very urgent deadline.

"The compassion and humanity that we can show this family, this Yukon family, this Canadian boy, warrants that. There's no question in my mind. If there's ever a time to stand up for a family or an individual, this one is very clear." 

Sergio Rojas and his eldest son, Sergio Jr., leave for Vancouver today.

Martinez will follow on Wednesday with Jonathan.


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