Jose Figueroa has spent two years in sanctuary in a Langley church to avoid deportation, but a change of government may change his status.
Langley-Aldergrove Conservative MP Mark Warawa said he will take up Figueroa’s case with the incoming Liberal immigration minister. Ministerial appointments are expected Nov. 4.
“He’s shown himself to be a positive contributor to the community,” Warawa said, adding he believes Figueroa should be granted permanent residency in Canada.
“I think it’s in Canada’s best interests to allow him to stay,” said Warawa.
Figueroa came to Canada as a refugee from El Salvador in 1997 with his wife. His children, born here, are Canadian citizens.
He was ordered removed from Canada because he was a member of the FMLN in the 1980s.
The group was fighting the military regime that ruled El Salvador at the time, but Figueroa was not involved in any violent activities.
After the end of the war, the FMLN transitioned into becoming a legitimate political party, and two years ago actually won elections and formed the government of El Salvador.
Two years ago, Figueroa avoided being removed from the country by taking refuge in the Walnut Grove Lutheran Church. While churches do not have special legal standing to prevent arrests, police and Canada Border Service Agency officials have been reluctant to arrest non-violent people claiming sanctuary.
Figueroa has spent his time trying to legally appeal the deportation order. He has won some partial legal victories, including an acknowledgement by judges that the FMLN is not a terrorist organization.
Figueroa said he is always hopeful he can stay in Canada.
“The possibilities with a new minister are always greater,” he said.
An immigration minister could order him to be allowed to stay in Canada.
If he is released, “the first thing, I will just pray and thank God for the opportunity to be free again,” he said. Then he would go home with his family.