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A Mexican family has been living in a church in Canada for seven months

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Georgina Flores and Manuel Rodriguez, who run a small restaurant in Dorian, northern Mexico, decided to flee to Canada in 2018 after repeated threats and intimidation from a local drug dealer. Last November, however, Canadian authorities ordered their deportation to Mexico, arguing that the documents they submitted were not sufficient to prove that their lives could be in danger in their home country. Now, for seven months, the family has been living in a church in Quebec, where they have applied for asylum to avoid deportation.

Family history Said Both by some Average Local people That gives BBC MundoHe chose not to name Flores and Rodriguez openly in order to protect their identity in the large community of Spanish-speaking readers.

Flores and Rodriguez first tried to immigrate to Canada in 2009 when they began to be threatened by a series of violent acts by drug traffickers in the state of Coahuila, where they lived. They tried to come from the United States but were rejected, as agreements between the two countries – with a few exceptions – prevent one from seeking asylum in Canada if one first passes through the United States.

They opened a restaurant in Mexico again. Nine years later, the local Cartel family began demanding that the place sell drugs, and in retaliation they set fire to the Cartel grounds. It was then that Rodriguez decided to flee to Canada, where they were able to obtain a temporary residence permit: they worked in a factory in Sherbrook, east of Montreal, while their son Manolo, now 18, began dating. School. Meanwhile, the cartel discovers that other members of their family are re-running the restaurant in Mexico and continue to intimidate: they set fire to their relatives’ house with the intention of burning them alive (they saved themselves).

While in Canada, Rodriguez made a new application for a specific residence permit, which could be obtained by asylum seekers who feared they might be persecuted or tortured or killed in their own country. However, the request was rejected by the federal agency responsible for border controls and migration policies (Canada Border Services Agency, CBSA) because the family did not mention Cordell’s threats of revenge against family members in Mexico. So on November 8 came the deportation order.

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At the time, the family decided to ask for a reception at Plymouth-Trinity United Church in Sherbrook: now they have lived there for seven months to avoid being evicted, waiting to see if the handover decision will be reviewed.

Nos van a matarRodriguez said they would kill usInterview with CBC Last March, the family talked about what would happen if they returned to Mexico.

Steward Estwanfi, a lawyer who has been following the family in Canada, explained BBC Mundo The idea of ​​asylum in a church refers to the canon law in force before the Canadian Constitution, which gave the church the power to protect the people who took refuge there. The notion of asylum in a church in Canada today is not legally binding, and law enforcement does not prevent deportation of an asylum seeker there: however, it is generally respected by the CBSA, he said. CBC Shanna Bernier sits on the board of trustees of Sherbrook Church.

In the email seen CBC, CBSA states that the agency has “legal responsibility” to deport all foreigners who are ineligible to stay in Canada under current law. Although the law does not prohibit CBSA agents from entering a place of worship, the agency said it “intends to liaise with the persons concerned and the asylum agencies for their deportation.” “On a voluntary basis”.

“We hope the Department of Immigration of Canada will now grant temporary clearance and later permanent residency,” Eastwonfi said. The lawyer noted that Rodriguez received support from the Canadian community, starting from the Protestant church of Plymouth-Trinity United Church, which had unanimously decided to welcome Rodriguez even though they were Catholics.

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