An Edmonton family that was set to be removed from Canada this month has received some good news: their deportation has been delayed two years so their immigration paperwork can be processed.
Yolanda Duarte Martinez, her husband Jilmar Picon Pineda, and their eldest son were set to be deported to Guatemala on July 12.
Their four youngest children, who were born in the U.S., were going to be sent to live with relatives in Alabama on July 10. The youngest child is just six years old.
But on Friday, the family received a phone call letting them know their deportation had been put on hold.
“We all started crying and thanking her and pretty much looking crazy inside the car,” said Nely Picon, Martinez and Pineda’s 18-year-old daughter. “It means a lot because now our application can actually be seen for basically the first time.”
Receiving the good news over the Canada Day weekend made it even sweeter for Picon and her family.
“It’s an amazing country,” she said. “We celebrated it with more passion and happiness than ever before.”
Martinez and Pineda said they had been working illegally in the U.S. before they fled to Canada in 2011.
Pineda said he brought his family to Canada for safety and security, and a return to Guatemala was going to be a death sentence. The couple says other family members have been murdered in Guatemala and they fear they could face the same fate.
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“I was beaten by the gang members and I was shot at,” Pineda told Global News last month.
“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.”
A refugee claim had been denied by the Canadian government, so the family applied for permanent residency through humanitarian and compassionate grounds.
They filed an application in February, which Citizenship and Immigration Canada confirmed it received on Feb. 22. The average processing time for such paperwork is 30 months. The family received deportation orders in June.
The Canadian government’s travel advisory for Guatemala says the country has one of the highest rates of violent crime in Latin America, but a very low arrest and detention rate. The government advises travellers to exercise a high degree of caution due to the violence, roadblocks, strikes and demonstrations that occur periodically throughout the country.
Now that they’ve been given more time, the family is looking forward to camping this summer and exploring more of the country.
“We hope to stay here even longer as a family and keep contributing to this wonderful society,” Picon said.
With files from Kendra Slugoski and Caley Ramsay, Global News.