Deported teen refugee back in Toronto

Mexican teenager Josette Rosenzweig Issasi, who was deported from Canada last fall, will appear in a Toronto courtroom on Thursday after fleeing from Mexico.

Josette Rosenzweig Issasi, 14, to appear at court hearing on Thursday

Josette Rosenzweig Issasi, 14, was deported back to Mexico last fall but a higher court overturned that order, clearing the way for her return to Toronto on Wednesday. (CBC)

Mexican teenager Josette Rosenzweig Issasi, who was deported from Canada last fall, will appear in a Toronto courtroom on Thursday after fleeing from Mexico. 

Josette Rosenzweig Issasi, 14, was deported from Canada in October, when she was put on a plane back to Mexico. The deportation order was carried out even though the girl had been granted refugee status in 2010 following allegations of physical abuse by her mother.

Last month, the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled that she be returned to Toronto for a hearing into her future. But that ruling could not be enforced in Mexico.

The teen fled her mother's house a month ago and had been in hiding in Mexico. Her aunt, a Toronto resident named Josette Rosenzweig Espinal, flew to Mexico and helped arrange the girl's return to Canada in secret.


December 2008 Josette Rosenzweig Issasi travels from Mexico to Toronto to visit family.

April 2010 The girl, who is 13 at the time, is granted refugee status by the Canadian government following allegations of physical abuse by her mother in Mexico.

Fall 2010 Her mother, Marlen Rodriguez Issasi, appeals the decision granting her daughter refugee status in Canada, arguing the refugee board's ruling violated an article concerning child abduction under the Hague Convention. Her mother's appeal is eventually successful and the girl is ordered deported back to Mexico.

Oct. 15, 2010 The girl is deported, with immigration officials pulling her from class at a Toronto high school.

April, 19, 2011 The Ontario Court of Appeal rules the hearing that led to the girl's deportation was not complete and orders she be sent back to Toronto for a hearing on her future. This ruling, however, has no legal force in Mexico leaving Canadian officials' hands tied.

May 2011 With the help of her aunt, a Canadian citizen who lives in Toronto, Josette flees Mexico, using an escape route that takes her through Guatemala and El Salvador before flying to Toronto. The pair arrive at Toronto's Pearson airport on Wednesday in time for a ruling into the girl's legal status.

Josette was reunited with her high school friends on Thursday at Central Technical School, which she attended before being deported.

On Thursday she told CBC News, she was happy to be back in Canada.

"I'm back home," she said while surrounded with a handful of her friends. "My friends have been very supportive. I love them."

Franchesca Fazio said she was elated to have her friend back with her at school.

"We missed her. I was often scared [after Josette left]. You never kew what's going on. We were just all really worried. We all love her and care for her. When she was taken away, none of us really knew why. It shouldn't have happened in Canada."

To return to Toronto, Josette and her aunt had to first travel through Guatemala and El Salvador. Because the Canadian government held her passport, there were delays while a travel visa was arranged.

"It was like mission impossible to get here," Josette said Thursday.

The pair finally arrived at Toronto's Pearson airport on Wednesday night. 

On Thursday, the girl's aunt spoke to CBC News and described her niece's reaction when they landed in Toronto.

"Oh she was so happy," her aunt said. "So excited, happy to come home. This was like a dream for seven months, you know? We have been trying to do this and now finally, we are here."

Josette has said she is hopeful she will be able to stay in Toronto for good. But a decision on that will still have to be made by Ontario's highest court.