Saskatchewan

Sask. town rallies around family set to be deported to Honduras

A small Saskatchewan town is rallying around a family that is set to be deported soon after Canada Day.

'We don't understand why': People in Moosomin say Santos family is part of the community

Clockwise from left: Victor Santos; his wife, Lesi Hernandez; Victor Junior; and Edward, who was born in Canada, are hoping the federal government will intervene and prevent their deportation. (Yvonne Slugoski)

A small Saskatchewan town is rallying around a family that is set to be deported soon after Canada Day.

"The people are always anxious," says Russell Slugoski, one of the Moosomin residents who has been helping the family.

This is such a wonderful family; we really appreciate having them in our community.- Russell Slugoski

"They're always considering what is the possibility of this deportation: is it going to be carried through?"

Slugoski and others in the community have spent the past year on letter-writing campaigns and gathering nearly 1,000 signatures on a petition arguing for the family to be allowed to stay.

He says the couple has jobs, the boys are in school and people consider the family part of the community.

"This is such a wonderful family; we really appreciate having them in our community," he said.

Leaving Honduras

Victor Santos, his wife and their two children have been living in Moosomin, 200 kilometres southeast of Regina, for the past several years.

They first arrived in Toronto in 2011, where they initially filed for refugee status.

Their youngest child, Edward, was born in Canada and is not subject to the deportation order.

I don't know if I'm going to live for a couple of days or dead right there.- Victor Santos

Santos left his home country of Honduras in 2007 after he says he witnessed the murder of a journalist on the street, then began receiving death threats of his own.

"I just grabbed my backpack," Santos said. He began making his way north, first to the United States, then on to Toronto.

Santos is nervous about what awaits him in a country he hasn't set foot in for nearly a decade.

"I don't know if I'm going to live for a couple of days," he said, "or dead right there."

Claim denied

Santos's claim for refugee status in Canada was denied for failing to provide enough evidence to support the family's fear of returning to Honduras, something Santos said has been hard to corroborate from outside the country.

All appeals of the decision have failed for not providing any new information.

The family's last hope is a separate application for permanent residence based on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, in part because Edward has medical issues, which the family believes would be better treated here.

They are appealing to the federal government, including Saskatchewan MP and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, to intervene.

Last chance

In a statement from Goodale's office, Scott Bardsley said he could not comment on the case specifically, but while the minister "does have an exceptional discretionary power to temporarily stay a removal order, that power does not confer status in Canada."

However, Bardsley said a stay would generally only be used to "give additional time to the Minister of Immigration to consider whether there was an exceptional humanitarian or compassionate element that fell through the cracks of Canada's rules-based immigration system."

Without any intervention, the Santos family has received orders to report to the airport for deportation on July 5.

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