It has been one year and 10 months since Langley resident José Figueroa found sanctuary inside the Walnut Grove Lutheran church.
In June, he had to miss his son José Jr.’s graduation. He’s missed birthday parties for his children, Christmases at home and much more, while he’s been stuck inside the security of the church and away from Canadian Border and Security Officers, who he says are waiting nearby to deport him to El Salvador.
With legal bills mounting as Figueroa fights to stay in Canada, the church is holding a “Justice for José” solidarity potluck dinner on Thursday, Aug. 20.
Figueroa is urging the community to come out and support his family.
Special guest Robert Graham, a singer from Toronto who wrote the song, ‘You are Welcomed Here’ for the international ‘We are José’ campaign, will be there performing the song and spending a couple days with him at the church.
It was last July that a Federal Court judge ruled his deportation decision should be re-reviewed by a different immigration agent in Ottawa after seeing obvious flaws in the original decision to deport Figueroa, based on his affiliation with the FMLN party during his country’s civil war.
The FMLN is not on Canada’s list of terrorist groups, and is now the current governing body of El Salvador.
Yet, that judge provided no timeline for the review to take place so, 13 months later, Figueroa is no closer to hearing when his case will be looked at again.
“It is very tiring, everybody in the family is being affected by the lack of a solution to this problem,” Figueroa said.
“But we keep going until the ministers decide to do the right thing, keep the family together and end this injustice.”
With the federal election now in full swing, Figueroa believes his case won’t be looked at again until the dust settles after the election in October.
To learn more go to the We Are José Facebook page.
He was joined inside the church earlier this year by the Juhasz family, a mother and her two teen boys who are facing deportation back to Hungary.