Canada halts deportation of Filipino activist for review
RED DEER, Alberta – The head of the Filipino migrant rights group Migrante Canada has dodged deportation albeit temporarily, pending judicial review of the decision.
Danilo de Leon, who had an order for deportation on Aug. 29, revealed the court decision came down following a special hearing held on Aug. 28 via teleconference. His counsel had requested for the special hearing on Aug. 24, five days before his scheduled removal.
“We are grateful that a court in Ottawa conducted the hearing even on a Sunday,” he said in an interview with INQUIRER.net. The ruling was contained in a 14-page decision on Sunday evening effectively deferring his removal.
He said the court would also like to see the result of a Pre-removal Risk Assessment (PRRA) which could take up to seven months, or as short as two months, he was advised.
In mid-August, de Leon had filed for an initial PRRA but was denied by Immigration Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). He sought the help of an immigration lawyer who lodged a second PRRA application.
According to a Canada government website, a PRRA “ensures a person is not being removed to a country where there is a danger of torture, at risk of persecution or risk to life or of cruel or unusual treatment or punishment”.
When “accepted” by IRCC, a PRRA provides a person a “protected person” status in Canada.
Migrante Canada welcomed the reprieve and reiterated that de Leon would be facing political persecution if sent back to the Philippines because of his beliefs and advocacy.
In a statement, the group claimed its chapter in Alberta, which de Leon was a founding member, has been red-tagged as a communist front.
Since publication, de Leon claims attacks by online trolls labeling him as communist have escalated.
“There is still the agony of waiting for the decision of the judicial review but the deferral of the removal order until then is welcome. Whether de Leon is allowed to stay or is removed from Canada to go back to the Philippines, where the threat of persecution, harm to his life and safety are very real, remains to be the question,” it said.
Migrante Canada is campaigning for a regularization program to provide permanent status pathway to undocumented workers in Canada.
Data generated by academic research suggest there is anywhere between 20,000 to 500,000 members of this sector.
“Equal rights cannot be attained without permanent status. Many immigrant workers fall through the cracks of the complex immigration in Canada. Nobody should be left behind and live in constant fear,” he said.