Jose Figueroa deportation case

The Jose Figueroa deportation case started on May 5, 2010, when the Immigration Division of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada issued a deportation order against Jose Luis Figueroa, alleging that he was inadmissible into Canada pursuant of section 34(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA). Figueroa had come to Canada in 1997 as a refugee from El Salvador.[1]

More specifically, the allegation that had been brought up by a Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officer was that Figueroa was inadmissible into Canada for being a member of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), an organization that according to the opinion of the CBSA officer was considered to be a terrorist organization.[2] The issue of inadmissibility rapidly caught the attention of many, given the fact that the FMLN, the organization that is being referred to as a "terrorist organization", not only was the governing party of El Salvador at the time the inadmissibility issue was brought up, but also the FMLN is not and has never been proscribed in the list of entities established by the Canadian Government nor it has ever been included in the list of entities administered by the Counter Terrorism Committee (CTC) created by the United Nations.

A social media campaign was thought of and organized by students of the University of British Columbia (UBC) in response to a call to overturn the deportation order against Jose Luis Figueroa. The "We are Jose" campaign came to public light on January 16, 2011. January 16, 2011 marks the anniversary of the signing of peace agreement of Chapultepec, Mexico which put an end to the 12 year civil war in El Salvador.

Since the start of the We are Jose campaign there have been several milestones that provided momentum in the effort to achieving the objective to overturn the deportation order. Also there have been several decisions made by Canadian government officials, which included a decision by a delegate from the Minister of Immigration, on March 27, 2013, to enforce refuse a humanitarian grounds application[2] which had been filed on June 25, 2002 and approved in principle on July 12, 2004. The minister's delegate also decided to allowed Mrs. Figueroa to remain in Canada so that she could care for the couple's three Canadian born children. The minister's delegate argued that Mr. Figueroa would still be able to provide moral support to his family via the modern way of communication, presumably via Skype.

On October 4, 2013, Mr. Figueroa was forced to claim sanctuary at Walnut Grove Lutheran Church in the city of Langley, British Columbia where he remained for over two years until he was granted a ministerial exemption by the Honorable John McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship. Jose Luis Figueroa left sanctuary on December 23, 2015.[3] Almost four months after the Minister granted the exemption the application for permanent residence has not been finalized.

Mr. Figueroa's case has set some important legal precedents that relates to the legal definition of different terms, such as: the legal definition of "membership", "organization", "terrorism", and how those legal terms are used to advance on findings of inadmissibility under Section 34(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) against immigrants and refugees who at any point in life were part of or sympathizers of movements that fought in struggles for liberation. The finding of inadmissibility by the Immigration Division of the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) against Mr. Figueroa on May 5, 2010, when compared with the fact that if the allegation had been brought against a prominent figure such a Nelson Mandela, highlights an evident paradox in the law. Mr. Mandela would have been found inadmissible into Canada due to his membership with the African National Congress (ANC), however, Nelson Mandela was an honorary citizen of Canada.


  1. Brend, Yvette (December 22, 2015). "Deportation order withdrawn against Jose Figueroa in time for Christmas". Radio-Canada. Retrieved April 19, 2016.
  2. Ross, Oakland (July 23, 2014). "Judge's ruling may help two Salvadorans stay in Canada". Toronto Star. Retrieved April 23, 2016.
  3. Burgmann, Tamsyn (December 23, 2015). "Salvadoran dad weeps in relief on leaving B.C. church after two years in sanctuary". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved April 23, 2016.

Further reading

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