Yesterday, a simple meeting with the Canadian Border Services Agency went very wrong very quickly for Miguel Luna Cruz.
Originally from Mexico, Cruz had been in Canada for six years as a refugee claimant with a permit to work. His refugee claim was denied and he went to a scheduled meeting to get his departure date. They gave him 20 days.
He asked for an extension until May so he could finish his work contract with Lasalle College which runs until the end of the semester and pay his income tax. He also informed them that if no extension was granted, he would have to take them up on their offer of paying his airfare and reimburse them when he got to Mexico (he had initially said he would be able to pay his own airfare because he gets paid early May).
That, according to Cruz’s lawyers Chantal Ianniciello and Perla Abou-Jaoudé, is when things went terribly wrong. Instead of trying to come to an agreement, which is normal procedure in these cases, the agents immediately arrested Cruz and said that there is nothing else he can do. He initially interpreted this to mean that he couldn’t contact his lawyer, but the affadavit they had him sign said he could, though he didn’t realize that at the time. He now faces deportation as early as tomorrow (Thursday).
“It’s happening more often now,” Ianniciello and Abou-Jaoudé observed, “when clients get the chance to get a detention review, they often get released but they are also being deported before having a chance to attend a detention review. We do not always realize that this is happening as these kinds of deportations happen quickly and the clients have very little time to get a lawyer that is willing to take such a case in such short time, as it will possibly be pro-bono.”
I emailed the CBSA to see if they had anything to say about this case. They said “we have procedures for internal approvals of our answers” and a response may take until midday today. If I get a response, I’ll update this post, but since Cruz is facing deportation tomorrow and can’t wait, neither can I.
While I understand how it can take time for a proper media response, I find it interesting that they can make much quicker decisions when it comes to a legal immigrant like Cruz’s future.
* UPDATE 2:58pm: Cruz’s deportation was postponed so he can have a detention review tomorrow (Thursday) instead. If this doesn’t go well for him, though, he could be deported as early as Saturday
* Information updated at 12:54pm, this post originally said that Cruz had a temporary guest worker visa, when in fact he was a refugee claimant with a work permit, when his claim was rejected, he went into the meeting to get his departure date