Jose Figueroa will be spending Christmas with his family after spending two years in the sanctuary of a Langley church.
Figueroa has been notified that Immigration Minister John McCallum has granted an exemption to a deportation order issued in 2010.
“This decision allows me to safely be reunited with my family,” Figueroa said. “My family and I are happy not only for our family, but also for many other immigrants who can have a positive precedent to give them hope.”
Figueroa arrived in Canada as a refugee from El Salvador in 1997 and was approved in principle as a permanent resident.
However, he was later given a deportation order due to his previous membership with the FMLN.
The group was one faction that fought in El Salvador’s civil war in the 1980s. Figueroa was a non-combatant at the time.
Although Canadian immigration officials treated the FMLN as a dangerous group, it had in fact transitioned into a peaceful political party by the time the deportation order arrived. The FMLN was elected as the government of El Salvador for a time and had ordinary diplomatic relations with Canadian officials.
To avoid being deported away from his Canadian-born children, Figueroa has spent the last two years and two months living inside the Walnut Grove Lutheran Church.
He will officially emerge on Wednesday, Dec. 23.
Following the recent federal election, Langley-Aldergrove Conservative MP Mark Warawa said he would issue an appeal to the new incoming Liberal immigration minister on Figueroa’s behalf.