Mother braces for visit to soon-to-be-deported husband

Posted by admin on Mar 22nd, 2013

By Jessica Barrett, Vancouver Sun March 22, 2013

Diana Thompson took a moment to compose herself before answering questions about the fate of her husband – one of eight men arrested in last week’s Canada Border Services raid. She paused, inhaled sharply and blinked back a few tears as she admitted she was nervous about visiting Tulio Renan Avilés-Hernandez in detention in Maple Ridge Thursday. It would be the first time she’d seen him since the raid that ignited a national controversy because it was filmed for the reality TV show: Border Security: Canada’s Front Line. Thompson said Thursday morning she was preparing for an emotional shock. “We’re not going to be able to hug each other and touch each other … it’s going to be through a glass window,” she said. “I think it’s going to be more real.”

It would be a taste of the new reality facing Thompson, who will once again become a single mother when Avilés-Hernandez, her partner of three years and husband since September, leaves the country next week in compliance with a removal order.

“It’s a sure thing that he does have to go,” Thompson said.

Although she has applied to sponsor her husband to stay in Canada, he will have to return to Honduras to wait while her application wends its slow way through the legal channels.

“I’m trying to hold it together for me and my daughter. And for my husband as well because I’m the one running around doing everything and trying to get everything in order for him.”

Thompson added she and her eight-year-old daughter, who is from a previous relationship but considers Avilés-Hernandez a father figure, plan to visit him in Honduras over the summer.

It will likely be years before the family is reunited in Canada, said immigration lawyer Zool Suleman. He does not represent the family.

There are channels to keep families together in Canada while a sponsorship application is pending – regardless of the applicant’s immigration status – but the government has increasingly weighed in favour of deportation in the past two years, he said.

“They do have the discretion to let this person stay,” said Suleman. “Why they’re choosing not to let this person stay is what we need to figure out.”

Factors that count against an undocumented person hoping to gain sponsorship range from criminal records to persistent medical issues to working illegally, said Suleman, noting the latter was likely a factor in the Avilés-Hernandez case.

The Honduran now faces a higher barrier of entry into Canada, said Suleman, and Thompson may have to begin the sponsorship process anew.

With the deportation seemingly a done deal – and in keeping with Canada’s immigration laws – Thompson said she feels strongly the disruption to her family should not be exploited to create reality TV programming. A petition she started on urging for the cancellation of the Border Security TV show, which airs on the National Geographic Channel, had 20,000 signatures as of Thursday afternoon.

Thompson is not the only one with serious concerns about the show.

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association announced Thursday it filed a complaint with the federal privacy commissioner on behalf of Oscar Mata, another worker detained in the raid, who was deported to Mexico on Wednesday.

Before his departure, Mata said he signed a release form for the production company under duress while being questioned by CBSA officers.

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