With his wife and children

‘We are Jose’ chanted as Figueroa free

A Langley man took his first steps outside of a church in two years.

Jose Figueroa broke down in tears as he took his first steps outside of a North Langley church in two years on Wednesday afternoon.

Surrounded by about 100 supporters and flanked by his wife and children, Figueroa took a symbolic step across the doorway to the Walnut Grove Lutheran Church.

“I am free!” he shouted to the cheers of onlookers.

Figueroa came to Canada in the late 1990s as a refugee from El Salvador. He and his wife had three children here, but his application to remain was denied because of his past membership with the FMLN, a former resistance group involved in El Salvador’s civil war of the 1980s.

The FMLN is now a political party in El Salvador and has won elections and governed the country at times. Figueroa was never in a combat role.

In 2013, he was given a deportation order. Figueroa decided to take sanctuary in a church rather than leave his children – all Canadian citizens – and wife who had permission to remain.

He has since been filing appeals to stay with the support of the church and local residents, including a number of politicians from civic councillors to local Members of Parliament. He was officially told early this week that the deportation order has been lifted.

“I just want to thank everybody for all the support,” Figueroa said.

Although he was in tears and leaped with joy after taking a few steps into the parking lot, Figueroa also joked with the crowd. He said he had trouble finding his shoes after spending two years wearing nothing but sandals.

The crowd sang Happy Birthday to Figueroa, and a number of supporters had arrived with gifts.

Figueroa said he hopes to become a Canadian citizen and to help others in a similar situation to his own.

Canada is capable of showing compassion to refugees from anywhere in the world, he said.

After the crowd changed “We are Jose,” he returned to the church for a celebration, but said this time he was going in “as a free man.”

• Stay tuned to the Langley Advance print and online editions for updates to this story

 

Just Posted

Aldergrove celebrates 18th Extreme Home Repair: VIDEO

‘Big Reveal’ marks 15 years and 18 home repairs by Acts of Kindness volunteer team

Everyone invited to Extreme Home Repair ‘reveal’ in Langley Monday

A block party with bouncy castles and treats begins at the Adam’s home on 32A Avenue at 4:30 p.m.

Cloverdale Rodeo finishes with thousands in prizes, Will Senger memorial

Overall, more than 21,000 people came to the rodeo over the four days

2018 Cloverdale Rodeo and Country Fair Round-up

Looking back on the community events, rodeo and country fair that took place over May long weekend

VIDEO: Flames destroy abandon Langley home Monday

Fire ripped through a single-storey house in Brookswood on the holiday Monday.

VIDEO: After the floods, comes the cleanup as Grand Forks rebuilds

Business owners in downtown wonder how long it will take for things to go back to normal

Rachel Notley to skip premiers conference to focus on pipeline deal

Kinder Morgan has ceased all non-essential spending on the Trans Mountain pipeline project until it receives assurances

B.C. tech company will power Uber Elevate

Moli and Uber announce research and development partnership.

UPDATE: Woman dies in ocean accident near Tofino hours before daughter’s wedding

“We are so thankful to everyone who helped our mom.”

Olympian sues USA Swimming, saying it failed to protect her

Ariana Kukors Smith alleges her former coach Sean Hutchison began grooming her for sexual abuse at the age of 13

Defence minister thanks troops for B.C. flood relief work

Harjit Sajjan says not only was military response quick, support from locals has been ‘tremendous’

McPhee in boxing spotlight

‘Turmoil on 200th’ Pro Am Boxing event at Langley Events Centre

Fraser Valley Symphony ends 34th season

‘Romantic Rendezvous’ features Michelle Mares on piano on June 2

‘Find Your Fit’ at Aldergrove career event

Students and general community sessions set for Aldergrove Secondary

Most Read