Immigration battle forces 2 elderly friends into U.S.

Two elderly women — one Canadian, the other American — crossed the border into the United States on Wednesday, after exhausting efforts to stay in Canada together.

Elderly friends face uncertain future in U.S.

Two elderly women, one American and one Canadian, crossed the border into the United States on Wednesday after repeated appeals to stay in Canada failed 2:37

Two elderly women — one Canadian, the other American — crossed the border into the United States on Wednesday, after exhausting efforts to stay in Canada together.

American citizen Nancy Inferrera, 72, has lost all of her appeals to stay in Canada with her ailing friend.

On Wednesday afternoon Inferrera with her friend of 30 years, Mildred Sanford, 83, crossed the border into Maine, uncertain about what the future holds.

"I just can't comprehend it, I just can't comprehend it. It doesn't make sense in my head. I'm nervous, I'm scared," said Inferrera.

"I'm in a real mess here now. A real, real mess."

Inferrera has been living in Guysborough County with Sanford, who has heart problems and is in the early stages of dementia. Inferrera said she provides care for Sanford but her application for permanent residency has been refused, as has her appeal on humanitarian grounds.

Julie Carmichael, communications director for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, said in an email to the CBC Wednesday that the minister will not intervene.

"There are no plans to intervene on this file, all avenues of review having been exhausted," the email stated. "The Minister of Public Safety cannot grant legal status in Canada."

"I just don't think it's fair, I'm not taking from the government, I'm giving to the government," said Inferrera, "And they make me leave my home because nobody has the decency to give me a piece of paper that says I can stay here. It just doesn't seem fair."

She said she feels bad for Sanford, who has no one to look after her.

"She's getting in that stage where she's forgetting everything, you know I do all I can for her. She can't stay up in Guysborough all by herself," said Inferrera.

"All of my brothers and sisters are gone," said Mildred. "I couldn't get along without her," said Sanford. "I forget to take my medication and everything, like, she's always getting everything ready."

Inferera's lawyer Lee Cohen said Immigration Minister Jason Kenney could intervene.

There is no indication he will.

A potential next step is for Inferera to re-apply to come to Canada. Cohen said that process would take about a year.

Cohen told CBC News the two women are staying in a motel in Maine, for now.

"The motel owner has given them 50 per cent off the weekly rate, so that they can stay there for a maximum of one week," he said, "and in the course of one week, I'm hoping that we can still prevail upon the minister in Canada. Failing that, Nancy and Mildred have to find a place to live. They don't have one."

Inferrera worries they could end up on the street.

"I know I can't afford to live down there and pay for the place up here. Neither one of us can. I have no idea what I'm going to do," she said.

Cohen said this case shows a cold-hearted lack of compassion. He doesn't believe it's what Canadians want from their immigration system.

He hopes public opinion can still prevail, and allow Sanford and Inferrera to return to their home in Guysborough.