An Edmonton couple originally from Guatemala will soon be deported and separated from four of their five children.
The couple and their eldest son are being sent to Guatemala July 12. Though they say it’s not safe, they have no choice. But the four youngest children were born in the U.S., so the parents made the wrenching decision to send them to a relative in Alabama. They leave July 10.
“It hurts me a lot because they have never been separated from us,” Yolanda Duarte Martinez said. “They have always been with us.”
Through an interpreter, Martinez and her husband Jilmar Picon Pineda told Global News they signed the deportation paperwork Tuesday.
“I’m very worried as a father because, as a father, when you have children, it’s for you to protect them and now, I’m not being allowed to protect them,” Pineda said.
The parents said they had been working illegally in the U.S. before they fled to Canada in 2011.
They say they paid an Edmonton acquaintance thousands of dollars to help with their refugee claim, but the paperwork was never filed.
The couple says other family members have been murdered in Guatemala and they fear they could face the same fate.
“I was beaten by the gang members and I was shot at,” Pineda said. “When I was in the States, when I ran away, I received a call and they told me that they were waiting for me upon my return.”
Pineda said he brought his family to Canada for safety and security and a return to Guatemala would be a death sentence.
“Being deported to Guatemala is being deported to death,” their translator Adriana Hernandez said.
“Therefore they chose, out of love for their children, for the children to be deported to the United States because that’s where they were born.”
Watch below: 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.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada confirmed it received the Pinedas’ application for permanent residency on humanitarian grounds on Feb. 22, 2017. The family has had no word on when that application will be reviewed.
The minister has the authority to intervene based on exceptional circumstances. Because of privacy laws, he would not comment.
Ralph Goodale, the federal minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, can temporarily halt a deportation order to provide the immigration minister time to reconsider a claim.
“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.”
The family hopes that now that they’ve been given a deportation date, their plea to stay in Canada will be heard.
—With files from Kendra Slugoski