Marianna Juhasz was standing behind José Figueroa and his family when the Langley man ended more than two years of sanctuary on Dec. 23 by stepping outside the Walnut Grove Lutheran Church in Langley.
Juhasz watched from inside the church as an emotional Figueroa said the new immigration minister who lifted the deportation order against him should do the same for Juhasz and her sons, Patrik and Tamas, who were ordered returned to their native Hungary in 2014.
“Let’s everybody just gather together and find a solution for their situation as well,” Figueroa said.
That day, several people came up to Juhasz and said they hoped she would be next to win an exemption.
“I hope so,” she said.
A few days later, Juhasz sat down for an interview with The Times to talk about her life with her sons after more than a year of living in sanctuary in the same church that sheltered Figueroa.
Juhasz said she was encouraged by the decision to grant Figueroa an exemption based on compassionate and humanitarian grounds.
“(I have) a little more hope, now,” she said.
“I pray every day.”
The Juhasz family is planning to file a new application to remain in Canada on humanitarian grounds early in the new year, arguing it will be in the best interests of Patrik and Tamas.
The family said there will be new, written evidence from Hungary that supports their application for refugee status based on abuse by her ex-husband, the boys’ father.
They are also hoping to get an psychological assessment of Tamas, who they said has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of being abused by his father.
A few months ago, Patrik and Tamas were able to resume their studies, thanks to an agreement with the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) that allows them to leave the church without fear of arrest in order to attend school and participate in after-hours sports.
Juhasz was grateful the CBSA was willing to negotiate a compromise that benefits her sons.
“I’m so happy the boys (can) go outside,” she said.
She still faces the prospect of possible arrest and deportation if she steps outside the church, however.
“I’m stuck, yeah.”
In his written decision ordering the trio returned to their native Hungary, Federal Court Judge Robert L. Barnes said they had failed to provide evidence that would prove their claim of physical abuse.
However, an English-language report from the Pal Bugat hospital in the town of Gyöngyös, Hungary stated Marianna Juhasz was treated for an injury to one arm around the time of the alleged violent assault.
The report described her arm as “bruised and sensitive” and said it was not an accident, but inflicted “by a person” who was not identified.
A different document refers to the father “slapping” Tamas.
The Barnes decision didn’t dispute the claim the son suffered abuse, but concludes that “concerns about Tamas’ psychological health are fully addressed.”
Marianna Juhasz said she doesn’t believe the authorities in Hungary will be able to protect her or her sons if they are forced to go back.