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News - All - 28 Oct 2019
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Miscellaneous: 28 Oct 2019
Kitchener family facing deportation
WATERLOO REGION — A family of eight living in Waterloo is facing deportation to their native Guatemala.
|Sandra Morales, centre, with her six children, Gimder Roblero (solid black hoodie, left), 18, Daniella Roblero (tan fleece jacket, right), 16, Kaitlyn Roblero (black and white jacket, long pony tail), 14, Job Roblero (red white and blue tee), 11, Briezhlander Roblero (turquoise hoodie), and Aaron Roblero (red hoodie), 4. - Peter Lee , Waterloo Region Record |
They are here illegally after their claim for refugee status was denied by the Immigration, Refugee Board a year ago.
All six children were born in the United States, but immigration officials say because they are minors they must remain with a parent. The oldest child, who is 18, can go to the U.S.
Sandra Morales, 34, is devastated by the idea her family could be separated.
"We are scared to go to Guatemala," Morales said through translator Julio Puac of Kitchener, a family friend.
"We want to protect our children," she said as she was overcome with emotion. "We are afraid for them."
"I know we went against the law but we were too afraid to go back home," she said.
Morales left Guatemala when she was 13. She came to the U.S. with her sister, who was 14.
The girls crossed the border. In Arizona, they got in a van, where they laid on the floor of the vehicle until they reached Detroit, Mich., stopping only for food and washroom breaks.
"I was scared. I didn't want to leave home but my mom forced me to leave the country," Morales said. "I was at risk of being killed."
She said her father was killed when she was two. She doesn't know the circumstances, but she said the death was suspicious.
The girls worked in housekeeping in a hotel in Detroit. There, Morales, met her future spouse, Daniel Roblero, who worked in the kitchen.
He fled to the U.S. in 1998 after guerrilla forces came to his home in Guatemala to recruit him. He was 18.
The couple lived in Detroit, then moved to Los Angeles for work, before returning to Detroit when Morales' mother and siblings illegally moved there.
The couple started their paperwork for legal status, but Roblero was arrested in 2011 by American immigration officials.
He was sent to Guatemala and crossed back to the U.S. illegally a month later. Three months later, he was rearrested and sent back home.
The following year, he was back in Detroit. The family decided to move to Waterloo Region, where three of Roblero's brothers live legally.
They family went to a refugee centre in Buffalo and crossed at the Fort Erie border into Canada on April 13, 2017.
Roblero had a work permit and worked in landscaping while in Kitchener.
The couple than began the process for legal status in Canada.
They also applied for permanent residency on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, but that too was denied. Humanitarian factors included hardship, medical issues and the best interests of the children.
One child has dietary issues, and another has a hand deformity with no fingers on his right hand. One child has developmental delays.
The family was given a deportation order for July 12 but they never showed up at the Toronto airport. Warrants for their removal were issued a few weeks later.
On Oct. 15, Roblero, 39, was driving his children to school when he was stopped by Waterloo Regional Police for a random traffic stop. Border officials were contacted and he was arrested.
The entire family was detained but the children were released to family in Kitchener within hours. The oldest son, 18, and Morales were detained for 48 hours.
Morales said she was saddened that her eldest son spent 48 hours in jail.
"It is difficult because my husband is detained. It feels awful being without him," she said.
"I can't work and life is tough with six kids," she said.
In her judgment in July, Justice Elizabeth Walker of the federal court said that the couple "failed to establish with clear and non-speculative evidence that being removed to Guatemala at this time will cause them irreparable harm."
The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada found the family did not meet the requirements of refugees needing protection.
The harm they alleged they would face in Guatemala "is generalized and is one faced by others in Guatemala," the decision stated.
The board said the family's fear of risk is generalized.
"Crime in Guatemala is pervasive and a condition that is faced by all citizens. The panel find that the claimants have not established, on a balance of probabilities, that they will be personally targeted," the board said.
Julio Puac, who came to Canada from Guatemala with his family when he was seven, runs a cleaning business. He said he could offer Roblero steady work.
Puac and other friends are helping the family financially.
Puac said Roblero has always worked and supported his family, never asking for any assistance.
"They don't want to get separated. They want to stay together," he said.
Morales says she's awake most nights thinking about what to do.
"There seems no way out of this situation," she said. "It's very hard to see my children crying."
Liz Monteiro Waterloo Region Record/AA
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