London·Exclusive

Families of Mexican men arrested in London, Ont., are looking for answers

The family of two of the 12 men who were arrested last month on outstanding immigration warrants are speaking out and pleading for mercy as the men have been held in Canada for over three weeks.
Eduardo Longino and his wife, Shendely, with their two daughters in Mexico (Facebook)

Shendely Ortega says her husband, Eduardo Longinos, 29, came to Canada to make money so they could pay for their daughter's expensive medical treatments in Mexico. 

"She has a complicated kidney disease," Ortega said.

But now, her husband is in a detention centre in Toronto, uncertain of the future. He's one of 12 men arrested in June on outstanding immigration charges in London, Ont. 

He's getting very anxious in there.- Shendely Ortega

"His only goal is to give his family a better quality of life," Ortega said between tears, speaking to CBC News in Spanish from her home in Mexico.

"None of those men [who were arrested] were trying to hinder the country or to disrespect anyone in Canada. They just wanted to work and give their families what they can't give them here in Mexico."

 Langinos came to Canada more than a year ago and since then, money has been less of a problem.  

"Last December she had a surgery and it was the first, out of five major surgeries, where we weren't worried if we could afford it," Ortega said. 

Eduardo Longinos, 29, was one of the 12 men arrested on outstanding immigration warrants in London last month (Facebook )

Ortega credits her husband's hard work and efforts here in Canada as what allows her daughter to get up and play everyday back in Mexico.  

"Before we had to scramble, borrow and pray that we could pay for the surgeries, but we might have to go back to that," she said. 

Ortega has been in touch with her husband through phone calls most days. His case has been put over until a detention review hearing on July 29. 

Also in immigration detention in Toronto is Jose Martinez Garcia, 21. 

CBC News spoke to Martinez Garcia's sister, Reyna Martinez, who described the family as humble farmers. 

'Humble, hard-working, good boy'

Jose Martinez Garcia, 21, was arrested with 11 other men in a house in London's Old North. (Facebook )

Martinez Garcia was arrested alongside Longinos at the house in London's Old North neighbourhood.

"My brother is a humble, hard-working, good boy who had a dream to get to your country," Martinez told CBC. 

She hasn't heard much from her brother since he was arrested and has no idea why he was arrested in the first place. 

"My brother was in Canada working. He left with a contract to work, so I don't understand why he's in jail," she said.

Runaway soccer ball

London police said they were called to Talbot Street, near Regent, on June 22 after a citizen complaint. They later told CBC News that they arrived to the house in Old North because a citizen was seen jumping over a fence. An investigation revealed the men were wanted on outstanding immigration warrants and they were turned over to the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA)

Ortega said her husband told her that the men were all playing soccer, when someone kicked a ball too hard and it landed in a neighbour's backyard. 

"My husband went with another housemate, who speaks English, to ask for the ball back, but the two young women who answered the door got upset and didn't hand it back," Ortega explained. 

She says her husband then left to get food with a housemate and when they came back, police were there after one of his housemates jumped a fence to retrieve the ball. 

For Ortega and Martinez, their biggest concern lies in the fact that both men are in a detention centre, when to them, they weren't doing anything that merits being in there. 

"I hope whatever happens the Canadian government has mercy on my brother. Jose's a young dreamer who just wanted to work. If he was there illegally, I want to apologize on his behalf, but please let him go," Martinez pleaded. 

Ortega just wants her husband to be free. 

"He's getting very anxious in there," she said. 

"It's not easy to go and leave your family, but he had to do it in order to support his family," Ortega said. "Now, I just want him to be free. Investigate him, but give him a chance. He just wanted to work there," she added. 

CBSA secrecy continues

The CBSA has refused to provide answers to repeated questions from CBC regarding the men's charges and their legal status at the time of their arrest. The agency cites privacy as a reason for not answering these questions. 

The immigration and refugee board, which oversees their detention, has provided CBC News with information about the men's cases, including that their warrants were for abandoned refugee claims.

Neither of the two Mexican women CBC spoke to knew anything about refugee claims. They said they thought their family members had work contracts.  

Critics say the CBSA, which has no independent oversight body, should not keep information about immigration detainees secret. 

The 12 men who were arrested were living in this house at 1092 Talbot St. Most of the houses on this stretch of Talbot near Huron Street are student rentals. (Andrew Lupton/CBC)

About the Author

Sofia Rodriguez

Reporter/Editor

Sofia Rodriguez is a reporter with CBC News in London. She is a recent graduate of Western University and Fanshawe College. You can email her at sofia.rodriguez@cbc.ca

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