His two-month cross-Canada trip to raise public awareness about his deportation battle may have cost Langley resident José Figueroa his job, but it was worth it, he said, because it also helped him find a lawyer willing to take his case.
Figueroa and his son José Ivan returned home May 19, ending a trip that began March 18 when father and son journeyed to Ottawa to raise awareness about his case.
Father and son rode the bus and sometimes hitch-hiked, making stops along the way to speak to supporters in Regina, Hull, Montreal London and Ottawa, where they were granted a meeting with the El Salvadoran embassy.
Figueroa said after he told his employer how much time he was planning to devote to the trip, his boss told him he couldn’t keep him on the payroll.
During the trip, Figueroa met with a high-profile lawyer in Toronto who has agreed to mount a Charter of Rights challenge of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act on his behalf.
Figueroa won’t say who the lawyer is right now.
He said the plan is to file for a court order blocking the deportation and also mount a class-action constitutional challenge on behalf of Figueroa and other immigrants who complain the law is too broadly worded.
“That’s the way I have always seen it [as a class action case]” Figueroa said.
“It affects not only my family, but, as we speak, many other families.”
The Langley father of three Canadian-born children is fighting to remain in Canada after he was ordered deported back to his native El Salvador for belonging to the left-wing Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), which was linked to violent acts during the civil war in El Salvador between 1980 and 1992.
The fact that Figueroa was a student who associated with a nonviolent wing of the FMLN didn’t matter under the immigration act’s toughly worded antiterrorism guidelines.
The law says a person is inadmissible to Canada if they are found guilty of “…being a member of an organization that there are reasonable grounds to believe engages, has engaged or will engage [in] the subversion by force of any government …”
The FMLN has since become the government of El Salvador after winning a democratic election.
Figueroa was told it will be seven to nine years before there is a ruling on his application to the ministry of public safety for “ministerial relief” that would allow him to remain in Canada.