Salvadoran refugee seeks sanctuary at B.C. church
Published Sunday, October 6, 2013 10:17PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, October 7, 2013 6:20AM EDT
A failed asylum seeker who’s been in Canada for 16 years is seeking refuge in a British Columbia church after a warrant was issued for his arrest.
The Canadian government ordered that Jose Figueroa, a native of El Salvador, be deported after he was declared inadmissible to the country because of his association to a group that was once considered a radical organization. The group has since become El Salvador's democratically-elected government.
Figueroa, a father of three, has admitted to once being a student recruiter for the Farabundo Martí National Liberation (FMLN) – a group that resisted the former U.S.-backed military dictatorship in El Salvador -- before coming to Canada with his wife as a refugee claimant.
However,the FMLN is not on Canada’s list of terrorist organizations.
The Canada Border Services Agency issued an order for Figueroa’s arrest on Friday. He is now claiming sanctuary at Walnut Grove Lutheran Church in Langley, B.C.
“We as a church are going to help him to supply for that because it doesn’t make sense why he should be deported,” Pastor Karl Keller told CTV B.C.
Figueroa said he’s beginning to feel anxious about possible having to leave his family. His three children were born in Canada and are citizens.
“I started feeling that sensation in my stomach, and a little bit of shaking in the hands. That makes remember the times when I was in El Salvador -- the death squads,” he said.
University of British Columbia professor Max Cameron said there’s no public list in which the FMLN is listed as a terrorist organization.
“There’s no list in the UN, the United States and in Canada in which the FMLN is a designated terrorist (group),” he said.
CTV News has approached Canadian Border Services Agency about Figueroa’s case a number of times, but it has yet to explain why FMLN is considered a terrorist group.
A social media campaign dubbed ‘We Are Jose’ ask supporters to record a short video urging the government to reverse Figueroa’s deportation order.
With a report from CTV B.C.’s Peter Grainger