The Rodriguez-Flores family is free…for now
The Rodriguez-Flores family on the steps of the church where they took refuge for 13 months, surrounded by friends and citizens.
Thirteen months after finding refuge at the Plymouth-Trinity Church in Sherbrooke, Manolo Rodriguez-Flores, Georgina Flores and Manuel Rodriguez have been able to walk the streets of the city freely since Wednesday. Ottawa has agreed to suspend the arrest notice of the family members, who have been facing deportation to Mexico since their refugee claim was denied. However, their troubles are not over as they still risk having to leave Canada.
The family went at 10 a.m. to the; Canada Border Services Agency with their lawyer Stewart Istvanffy to request the release of the warrant.
They were arrested this morning and released on bond. Now they can go freely in the city and it is hoped that the Minister of Immigration will intervene to allow them to stay in the country, explains the lawyer.
The Rodriguez-Flores family lived in the church for 13 months.
Adriana Herrera, a friend and member of the family support committee, says she is moved by the day.
The family was gripped by all kinds of emotions. Lots of fear. Sometimes the family was stuck. They didn't know what to say, and they had difficulty understanding some of the questions the border agents were asking them. That's why I say the family is still in shock. Afterwards, it was joy. When I walked into the church and hugged Manuel, he couldn't stop crying. It's incredible. It's a mixture of emotions that we have difficulty explaining, she underlines.
We remain hopeful. We believe in the values of society, and that the Minister of Immigration and that all the people who, until now, have supported the family, will continue to support it and take the necessary steps so that the family can stay here in Canada,” she adds.
Surrounded by friends and citizens who have supported them throughout the past year, the family also held a press conference on the steps of the ;Dufferin Street Church Wednesday afternoon.
“I feel very happy because I can see my friends, hang out with them, and that's it. There are no words to explain this. »
— Manolo Rodriguez-Flores
I am very very happy, exclaimed Manuel Rodriguez, visibly moved. It's the first time I've been outside [for a year].
Thanks to the Border Services office for giving us freedom today, added Georgina Flores. We are very grateful for the support.
“The fight continues. Thank you very much to all [those who helped us]. »
— Manuel Rodriguez
“I do the same thing every day, what I miss the most is seeing my friends”, confided Manolo Rodriguez-Flores last November.
The three members of the family must, however, meet certain conditions, including reporting to the Border Services Agency weekly. Also, as the deportation notice is still in effect, the risk of them having to return to their country remains a sword of Damocles hanging over their heads.
Several citizen initiatives have been set up in recent months to support the family.
The Rodriguez-Flores are still hoping for federal intervention that will allow them to stay in the country, such as a temporary resident permit or obtaining permanent residence on humanitarian grounds.
In January, they will receive a new date to be deported. The machine continues to turn, admits Me Stewart Istvanffy.
“Anything is possible. But with all the endorsements they have, there is great reason to be hopeful. But until we have a positive decision in our hands, we continue to campaign for them.
— Mr. Stewart Istvanffy
We have faith and hope that everything will turn out well, adds Georgina Flores.
The Rodriguez-Flores announced in November that they were considering risking it all and getting out of the church, or risk being arrested. However, the fear of expulsion held them back for a long time, says their lawyer.
With information from Marion Bérubé