CBC News, BC, has given a bit higher profile to José Figueroa’s battle to stay in Canada. On Tuesday, CBC published a story on the Langley man who has sought refuge in Walnut Grove Lutheran Church.[excerpt] After 16 years living in Langley, Jose Figueroa says he’s been forced to retreat into sanctuary in order to avoid being deported and separated from his family. The father of three currently resides inside the Walnut Grove Lutheran Church. He has not left the building since October 4th.
Figueroa spends most of his time on a laptop, e-mailing government officials and trying to build support for the “We Are Jose” movement, which is pushing for him to be able to stay in Canada. The group also wants to see significant changes to Canadian immigration law.
Figueroa sleeps in a small room right beside the church’s boardroom. It measures approximately two by three metres. Aside from Sunday services, the odd exercise group that uses the building and welcome weekend visits from family, the church is empty and quiet.
Immigration Canada has refused Figueroa permanent residency status on the grounds that he was involved a left-wing protest group – Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) – during the El Salvador’s civil war when he was a student.
Immigration Canada agrees that Figueroa’s participation in the FMLN was never violent.