Warrant issued: Refugee claims sanctuary in Langley church
A man the government wants to deport for having ties to an organization it claims is a threat is seeking sanctuary in a Langley church.
On Friday, the Canada Border Services Agency issued an arrest warrant for Jose Figueroa, a man from El Salvador who has been living in the country for the past 16 years.
Originally allowed to stay on humanitarian grounds as a refugee claimant, Figueroa was declared “inadmissible” by the federal government in 2009 because of his admitted role as a student recruiter for the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front -- a group that resisted the former U.S.-backed military dictatorship in El Salvador.
While the government believes the FMLN to be a threat, there are many others who aren’t convinced.
University of British Columbia political scientist Max Cameron questioned the decision to issue a warrant for Figueroa because of his ties to an organization that has not been publicly deemed a terrorist threat.
“Is there a list that we don’t know about?” Cameron asked. “Because there is no public list, no list in the UN or the U.S. or Canada where the FMLN is designated a threat.”
Members of the Walnut Grove Lutheran Church are not convinced either, and are providing Figueroa a place to stay inside the church, despite the outstanding warrant.
“We in the church are going to supply that,” pastor Karl Keller said. “I doesn’t make sense why he should be deported.”
Figueroa said he’s already seen border agency officers watching him through the church windows.
He said he's starting to feel anxious about possibly having to leave his family. His three children were born in Canada and are citizens.
“I started feeling that sensation in my stomach, and a little bit of shaking in the hands. That makes remember the times when I was in El Salvador -- the death squads,” he said.
CTV News has approached Canadian Border Services Agency about Figueroa’s case a number of times, but it has yet to explain why FMLN is considered a terrorist group.
A social media campaign dubbed ‘We Are Jose’ ask supporters to record a short video urging the government to reverse Figueroa’s deportation order.
With files from CTV British Columbia's Peter Grainger and CTVNews.ca