Vigil of support for Figueroa at Walnut Grove church

A vigil will be held Friday for Langley’s Jose Figueroa this Saturday, while he remains inside a local church to avoid deportation.

On Jan. 16 at 6:30 p.m. people will gather at the Walnut Grove Lutheran Church to mark four years since Figueroa began his attempt to win landed status in Canada.

A refugee claimant, Figueroa has spent the last year and a half in the church having claimed sanctuary. Canadian Border Services officials have not gone into the church to arrest him, but he does not dare leave the church itself.

The vigil will mark four years since the campaign for Figueroa began.

Figueroa came to Canada as a refugee from El Salvador in 1997 with his wife. His children, born here, are Canadian citizens. Yet since the early 2000s, Figueroa has been fighting to stay.

The issue is his membership in the 1980s of the FMLN, the Frente Farabundo Marti para la Liberacion Nacional. In that decade, the FMLN was fighting against the former military regime of El Salvador. Figueroa helped recruit but was not involved in the armed conflict.

Since the conclusion of the civil war, the FMLN has become a legitimate political party, and presently rules El Salvador after the country’s last election.

However, Canadian immigration officials and the Canada Border Services Agencey (CBSA) have claimed that Figueroa cannot stay in the country because they consider him a former member of a terrorist organization. On Oct. 4 last year, faced with a deportation order, he moved into the Walnut Grove Lutheran Church, and he hasn’t been outside since.

“If I step outside of the church, they will make an arrest,” he said.

He spends his time working on his case, reading up on immigration law on the church’s computer, and spends the weekends with his visiting wife and children. He takes part in church services and activities inside the building, such as weekly zumba classes.

Figueroa has won some limited legal victories, including rulings that the FMLN was never a listed terrorist organization, but the government is still seeking to deport him. Figueroa does not want to leave behind his family.

Just Posted

Giants owner Ron Toigo to get BC Sports Hall of Fame W.A.C. Bennett Award

Head of Langley-based hockey team to be honoured at May induction gala

UPDATED: Touching note left on Langley veteran’s windshield

A veteran hopes the writers of a note know how much he was touched by their kind words. They do.

LETTER: Canada should not be selling weapons abroad

A Langley man is critical of Canada for selling arms that are being used to kill civilians.

Langley author pens tribute to the men and women of Canada’s military for Remembrance Day

‘A soldier, a sailor and an airman … stood before the Pearly Gates’

LETTER: Langley candidate pleasantly surprised by campaign

A local woman who ran for municipal council is grateful for the experience.

People flocking to Vancouver Island city to see hundreds of sea lions

Each year the combination of Steller and California sea lions take over Cowichan Bay

Commercial trucks banned from left lane of Coquihalla

B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation has introduced a new program that hopes to prevent accidents and closures on the Coquihalla Highway.

B.C. teacher suspended 5 days for touching colleague’s buttocks

Lancer Kevin Price of Chilliwack has handed the retroactive suspension for 2017 incidents

Black Panther claw, Power Rangers blade among 2018’s ‘worst toys,’ safety group says

The World Against Toys Causing Harm organized announced its 46th annual list in Boston on Tuesday

Investigation underway into reported sexual assault at B.C. naval base

An Oct. 5 allegation is being investigated by Canadian Forces National Investigation Service

No charges against cop accused of stuffing money into sock during search

BC Prosecution Service says not enough evidence against Abbotsford officer

Many child killers have been placed in Indigenous healing lodges according to stats

As of mid-September, there were 11 offenders in healing lodges who had been convicted of first- or second-degree murder of a minor

Sex-misconduct survey excludes vulnerable military members: Survivors’ group

But It’s Just 700 says recent research has shown young military members and those on training are among those most at risk for sexual violence

Threat of extremism posed by proportional representation overstated: academics

As B.C. voters decide on electoral reform, the Vote No side is cautioning that the system would allow extremists to be elected

Most Read