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

Odd Thoughts: Consciousness legally deeper today

The rules governing marijuana sound like they were dreamed up at a pot party.

Puff, puff, pass: Cannabis is officially legal across Canada

B.C. has only one bricks-and-mortar marijuana store

New bus route to ‘replace’ Greyhound along Trans-Canada Highway

Rider Express Transportation says they will soon begin a bus service from Winnipeg to Vancouver

First-time Langley mayor’s gala raises $856,000

Final numbers are in for last month’s gala – $856,000 raised, $600,000 of which goes to hospital.

Young Giants make Worlds

Two forwards from the Langley-based WHL team were picked today to represent Canada.

VIDEO: How to roll a joint

The cannabis connoisseur shares his secrets to rolling the perfect joint

Hero campaign raises $1.1 million for B.C. non-profits

Lowe’s Canada Heroes campaign was held throughout September

Scope of Hurricane Michael’s fury becomes clearer in Florida Panhandle

Nearly 137,000 Florida customers remain without power from the Gulf of Mexico to the Georgia border

Streamlined pardon process for pot possession convictions in Canada

Feds say legalization is first step towards objectives of getting pot out of the hands of kids and eliminating black market

Boeser tallies in OT as Canucks beat Penguins 3-2

Vancouver wins without star rookie Pettersson

U.S. pot firm urges Trump to deny Canadian producers ‘competitive advantage’

The challenge for U.S. firms lies in the fact that while recreational cannabis is legal in nine states and medicinal pot in 22 others, it remains illegal under federal law

Mayor of Kamloops says ‘history has been made’ with vote on B.C.’s lone pot shop

The store to be run by the province in B.C.’s Interior is opening Wednesday as pot sales become legal across Canada

Government says imprisoned Canadian terror suspects must face consequences

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale showed little sympathy Tuesday for such individuals who now want to return to Canada

How rules for inmate segregation in Canada will change under Bill C-83

Federal government proposing changes to rules around inmates in federal correctional institutions

Most Read