“I am not a terrorist.”
Those are the first words spoken by José Figueroa in a new video plea to end his deportation warrant.
Oct. 4 marked two years since Figueroa took refuge inside the Walnut Grove Lutheran Church after the Canadian Border Service Agency ordered him back to El Salvador.
“I have been here in Canada for more than 18 years, have a family, my kids are Canadians, and all of the situation that has been evolving with the family really doesn’t make any sense,” he said in the video titled “Never Home: ‘I am not a terrorist,’” which was posted on YouTube on Aug. 29.
“I call myself a Canadian because I have been here long enough in order to clearly say I am a Canadian,” he said.
The warrant is based on Figueroa’s affiliation with the FMLN party during El Salvador’s civil war, and would force him to leave his wife and three Canadian-born children in Canada.
Last year, a federal court judge ruled his deportation decision should be re-reviewed by a different immigration agent in Ottawa, but with no timeline provided, Figueroa is still waiting to hear when his case will be looked at again.
Now, Langley City council wants to help bring his video to national attention.
Both MP Mark Warawa and Prime Minister Stephen Harper will be receiving the video, a decision council made after Figueroa’s neighbour Gillian Dyck showed council the YouTube clip at its Sept. 28 meeting.
Dyck was joined at the meeting by Figueroa’s wife and children and nearly two dozen supporters, who sat in the council audience holding red and white “Support! We are Jose” signs.
“Some people might argue that it’s not the responsibility of the local government to be involved in this largely federal affair,” said councillor Dave Hall.
“But quite frankly, I think that we need to, as an elected official, step up sometimes and represent the citizens and the residents of their own community. So I would suggest that ‘we are Jose,’ we have a responsibility to bring this to the attention of the federal government.”
Hall also made a motion to officially support the appeal of Figueroa to the minister of public safety and emergency preparedness and ask him to direct the CBSA to cancel the arrest warrant and allow Figueroa to be reunited with his family.
“I can’t find the right words for what the Figueroa family must be going though,” said councillor Paul Albrecht.
“Eighteen years here in Canada. To be put into this position is completely unfair, unjustified, and from a social justice perspective, is dead wrong.
“My heart goes out to the Figueroa family and something needs to happen here.”
Hall’s motion passed unanimously.