Immigration officials nab kids to net parentsposted on May 01, 2006 | in Category Canada's Immigration Policy | PermaLink
Date: April 29, 2006
In an unusual move designed to net an illegal immigrant couple, immigration officials in Toronto went to a school and threatened to take away two young sisters if their parents didn't turn themselves in.
The officials then took the sisters, who are seven and 14-years-old, and their Costa Rican mother to a detention centre.They were eventually released into the care of a friend.
The girls' Costa Rican father, who remains in hiding, told the Toronto Star he was shocked by the action.
"This is very strange. I don't understand what happened," Alvaro Serdas told the newspaper, speaking through an interpreter.
Serdas is hiding from immigration officials with his other two daughters, fearing officials intend to capture the entire family.
Immigration ordered the family to return to Costa Rica last year.
A border services official told the Star the officials' tactics contradict federal policy, though she could not confirm any details of what had allegedly taken place.
Anna Pape, a spokeswoman for the Canada Border Services Agency, said officials try to avoid tactics that would cause illegal immigrants to keep their children out of school for fear of having them used against them.
"What took place was contrary to CBSA protocols and the family has been re-placed,'' Pape told the newspaper.
"We don't want to create a situation where parents without status or facing removal keep their kids out of school.''
Another Costa Rican family is also facing deportation after immigration officials attended another Toronto school this week.
By contrast, normal protocol was followed in that investigation.
The family's two teenage children were pulled from their classrooms and taken to the principal's office on Thursday, where officials were waiting with their mother, Francella Sossa.
A tipster had alerted police to the family's illegal status, and officials had already apprehended Sossa and the children's grandparents.
That family came to Canada in 2001 on a visitor visa. They then applied for refugee status, claiming they would be in danger from drug dealers if they were forced to return to their homeland.
In the second case, the father of the children, Gerald Lizano, is also in hiding with a warrant out for his arrest.
They family is expected to face deportation.
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