Mississauga family deported to Colombia
While millions spent the long weekend celebrating Canada, a family of four from the Toronto area were forced to leave -- deported back to their native Colombia where they say they face danger and even death.
Juan Martinez and his wife Claudio Londono, together with their sons Sebastian, 13, and Camilo, 4, were sent back to Colombia, after four years in Canada and several unsuccessful applications for refugee status. They say the guerilla group known as FARC has threatened to kill them if they return to the South American country,
"We are in danger. I don't know what happened. I hope nothing happens to my kids," said Londono as the family, surrounded by friends and supporters, prepared to leave from Toronto's Pearson International Airport on Saturday.
The family fled Colombia, where Londono had been working with the government to help people leave FARC, in 1999. They were denied refugee status in the U.S., moved on to Canada and settled in Mississauga, Ontario.
Sebastian just graduated from Grade 8 at Sts. Martha and Mary Catholic School, where friends and schoolmates have started an online petition on the family's behalf. Supporters question why a hard-working, well-liked family is being deported, and are calling on the Harper government and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney to intervene.
"I think this is a classic case that would for the minister to exercise his discretion," said MP Don Davies, the NDP critic for citizenship and immigration.
The office of Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has referred requests for comment to the Canada Border Services Agency. CBSA won't comment on the case, citing privacy issues, but says removal from Canada isn't taken lightly.
The family has asked to remain in Canada on humanitarian grounds, a last-ditch effort that could allow them back into the country, though such applications typically take years and are only granted under "exceptional circumstances." The application is still pending.
In the meantime, in a letter left behind for his friends, Sebastian promised he would one day return to Canada.
"I love you all. I promise will set foot on this country again. I promise," it read.
With a report from CTV's Naomi Parness