Yukoners step up for Whitehorse family facing deportation
'If there's ever a time to stand up for a family... this one is very clear,' says Ryan Leef
A tearful goodbye took place at the Whitehorse airport Monday morning as a father and son left the Yukon bound for Vancouver where they plan to visit the Mexican consulate to arrange for documents before they're deported.
Mexican-born Sergio Rojas, his partner Linda Martinez, and their seven-year-old son Sergio Jr. have been denied Canadian residency status and told they must leave the country on March 4.
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However, the couple's other child, three-year old Jonathan Rojas, was born in the Yukon and is a Canadian citizen. Jonathan has special medical needs, including a form of muscle paralysis, and his family fears they won't be met in Mexico.
Martinez and Jonathan plan to head to Vancouver themselves on Wednesday.
Several supporters joined the family at the airport for the emotional send-off.
"This choice that this family has to make is inhuman," says Frederic Nolet of the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition. "I can't believe it's happening.
"I feel like a family shouldn't have to pick between access to health care and leaving their child behind."
Yukon NDP MLA Jan Stick agrees. "Do you leave that child behind so they can get the supports they need? But they don't have their family with them any longer?"
She calls the situation "untenable.
"The best outcome would be for this family to stay here. In Whitehorse."
Jonathan's parents say that given the choice between leaving their young son behind and putting him up for adoption or taking him to an uncertain future in Mexico, they'll take the latter.
Yukon MP talks to immigration minister
Yukon's Member of Parliament, Ryan Leef, has met with federal immigration minister Chris Alexander regarding the family's plight.
"He's clearly aware of the file now and has directed his staff to get a more comprehensive review, provide a detailed briefing for him," says Leef, "so he understands the complete process of the Rojas family file."
Leef says Yukoners have sent him letters about the family's plight and notes there's also been strong support for the family on social media. He's urging constituents to keep writing to his office and says those letters help show community support.
"The compassion and humanity that we can show this family, this Yukon family, this Canadian boy, warrants that. And 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."