Reported by Clare Hennig
Former asylum-seeker Jose Figueroa appeared in court yesterday morning to dispute the Canadian Border Services Agency’s labeling him as a terrorist.
Figueroa immigrated to Canada from El Salvador after the Salvadoran Civil War and claimed refugee status in 1997. After 13 years of living and raising his three children in Langley, Canadian immigration decided in May 2010 that Figueroa was inadmissible to the country because of his connection with an alleged terrorist organization in El Salvador. He asked for his name to be cleared in his court appearance.
“I am not a terrorist,” Figueroa said, during the judicial review hearing. “Was I a threat to Canada? Was I illegally in Canada?”
Figueroa was granted permanent residency in Canada on compassionate grounds in December 2015, after living in a church in Langley for more than two years, seeking asylum from deportation.
Canadian government deemed Figueroa a security threat
Figueroa had been issued a work visa and had valid paperwork at the time his deportation was ordered. The CBSA deemed Figueroa to be a security threat because of his ties to the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) as a student in the 1980s. The FMLN was voted into government power in El Salvador in 2009.
Federal Court Justice Yvan Roy said during the hearing that the FMLN is considered a terrorist organization by Canadian immigration because of the violent tactics it has used. Figueroa had never denied his membership to the court.
Figueroa said this case involves more than just him as an individual because it implicates all Salvadorans who have moved to Canada.
“Is the president of El Salvador inadmissible to Canada because of his association with The FMLN?” Figueroa asked Roy.
Salvadorians will be affected by court’s decision
After the hearing, Figueroa’s wife Ivania Figueroa said the proceedings have taken a toll on her family, but the fight has been worth it.
“We’re hoping for a better result, not only for my family but for other people too,” said Ivania. “It’s very hard to go through all this. It’s so complicated and there’s no way other people could do this fight, especially if they are not knowledgeable in English.”
Figueroa thinks the issue has not been fairly resolved yet.
“I think you are asking for something that the law does not allow, the matter has been heard already,” said Roy. “You may carry this is in your mind and think the issue is not resolved, but I am in the business of the law.”
Roy did not specify an exact date for a final decision but does not expect it to be made until after December.