It’s been a three and a half months since José Figueroa got his first taste of freedom after spending two years in sanctuary at his Walnut Grove church.
Since then, Figueroa has spent his days with his wife and three kids, adapting to life without fear of being arrested by the Canadian Border Services Agency.
But the Langley City man’s struggles aren’t over yet.
Figueroa has been waiting for a work permit so he can return to his job and provide for his family.
When he was granted a ministerial exemption of his deportation order at the end of December, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) indicated it would expedite the work permit, saying it should take about 45 days.
Figueroa filed the required documents in early February but, still, no work permit has arrived.
“I really want to get back to work. I’ve tried to find out what the hold up is but I haven’t heard back,” said Figueroa.
Figueroa’s former employer, Roland Houle, president of Global Decking Systems, had been holding his position for him but can’t any longer.
“We were more than willing to hire him back. We’ve been holding the position for José, waiting for him to get his work permit,” said Houle.
“But now we are going into our busy season and we need to hire someone.”
Houle said Figueroa worked for him for almost three years and he was pleased with his work. He was looking forward to having Figueroa to help with the workload.
Supporters of Figueroa have started a petition, backing his efforts to get a work permit and to finalize permanent residency status. The petition can be found here, or on the We Are Jose Facebook page.
In the meantime, Figueroa is still fighting in federal court to have them formally recognize that he or the FMLN (the current government of El Salvador) is not on any Canadian list of terrorists. His affiliation with the FMLN, a group fighting the violent dictatorship in El Salvador during the civil war in the 1980s, was what caused the Canadian government to deport him after 16 years of living in Canada.