New appeal granted to Latvian living in St. John’s church sanctuary

Posted by admin on Mar 1st, 2008

Sunday, February 17, 2008 | 8:54 PM NT. CBC News

A Latvian man who has been living in sanctuary in a St. John’s church for almost three years is getting another chance to become a Canadian citizen. Alexi Kolosov entered sanctuary at West End Baptist Church in April 2005, while facing deportation as an illegal immigrant. Alexi Kolosov has been living in the West End Baptist Church in St. John’s since April 2005.  A Federal Court judge has ordered that a new review be done of Kolosov’s case, in part because the previous review did not take into account the ties that Kolosov — who has four Canadian-born grandchildren — already has in the country.

“We all are very encouraged,” said Gordon Sutherland, the pastor at the church and an organizer of local supporters.

“We believe that this is the first sort of affirmation that the position we took was a valid one,” he told CBC News recently.

“We had noted a number of places in the decision process that was followed where the immigration [officials] appeared to violate their own policies by not taking into account various aspects of his application, such as the best interests of the grandchildren, and things like that,” Sutherland said.

Supporters say Kolosov, whose command of English is limited, received poor representation from a consultant who had prepared his previous documentation to become a Canadian citizen.

Sutherland said supporters are now preparing a new application for Kolosov to stay in Canada.

Last year, fearful that Canadian Border Services Agency officials would detain him if he left the church to see a dentist, Kolosov used pliers to remove an infected tooth himself.

There is no actual legal protection in Canada for church-based sanctuary. However, Canadian immigration officials rarely enter houses of worship to apprehend those facing deportation orders.

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