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Family faced with deportation: ‘Returning to Guatemala is returning to death’

Edmonton family facing deportation fears returning to homeland will be a death sentence
WATCH ABOVE: A family of seven that calls Edmonton home is desperate for help with a deportation order just weeks away. As Kendra Slugoski reports, they say being forced back to their homeland will amount to a death sentence.

A family of seven living in Edmonton is desperate for help and says a deportation order will tear their tight-knit family apart.

Through an interpreter, the parents of five children told Global News a border agent confirmed flights out of the country have been booked for July.

“I’ve never been apart from my children,” Yolanda Duarte Martinez said through tears. “I’ve always been with them.”

Martinez and her husband Jilmar Picon Pineda said they made the decision to send four of their children, one as young as six, to the United States where they were born. They will live with a relative.

The parents said they had been working illegally in the U.S. before they fled to Canada in 2011.

They and their adult son will be forced back to Guatemala, where they claimed other family members have been murdered.

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Pico Pineda said he brought his family to Canada for safety and security and a return to Guatemala would be a death sentence.

“Once we get there, I’m going to be dead.”

A refugee claim had been denied, but the family applied for permanent residency through humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada confirmed it received the application on Feb. 22, 2017. There has been no word on when that application will be reviewed.

A friend and interpreter for the family said they had trusted someone else to file the proper paperwork, but that didn’t happen. They now want Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen to halt the deportation order until their case is considered.

The minister’s office said he has the authority to intervene based on exceptional circumstances. Because of privacy laws, he could not comment on a specific case or application.

Ralph Goodale, the federal minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, can temporarily halt a deportation order to provide the immigration minister time to consider if something fell through the cracks.

“The decision to remove someone from Canada is not taken lightly,” Goodale’s office said in a prepared statement.

“Everyone ordered removed from Canada is entitled to due process before the law and all removal orders are subject to various levels of appeal.”

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Edmonton Manning MP Zaid Aboultaif said he is monitoring this case closely and contacted the immigration minister’s office.

With deportation looming, the parents said they will not only lose medical care for their daughter and schooling for all of their children, but each other.

“They’re [our]children, they need our care,” Picon Pineda said.

“We’ve never been separated. We’ve always been together.”