Oscar Vigil and his wife Carolina Teves. As a university student in El Salvador in the 1980s, Vigil acted as a contact between foreign journalists and rebel leaders during his country's civil war. After 13 years in Canada, Vigil is about to be deported as a "terrorist."
Photo: David Cooper / Toronto Star
- It’s called section 34 (1) (f) of Canada’s main immigration law, and it likely would have kept Nelson Mandela himself out of this country.
By Oakland Ross
27 April 2014
One elderly woman’s only political act was to stitch together uniforms for armed rebels in Ethiopia, then ruled by a murderous tyrant named Haile Mariam Mengistu.
Another man, now in his 60s, once donated the equivalent of $50 to the militant opposition in his country.
Yet another man used to act as an informal contact for foreign journalists who were seeking interviews with anti-government guerrillas in El Salvador.
None of these three people ever engaged in political violence themselves, and yet all of them – along with dozens and perhaps hundreds of others – face the threat of deportation on the grounds that they pose a security risk to the people of Canada, under a catch-all provision of this country’s immigration law that many lawyers decry as unfair and excessive.
“It’s an extreme overreaction,” says Ontario legal-aid lawyer Andrew Brouwer. “Their stories are so compelling. There’s not a single allegation of ever being involved in any kind of violence, much less a terrorist act.”