Gerald and Francella Lizano-Sossa and their children have been deported after a five-year stay in Canada. The family exhausted its refugee claims and subsequent appeals proved unsuccessful.
Despite being forced to leave the country, the father still had kind words for Canada.
“I want to say thank you to everybody for all the support … all the communities, the media, everybody. They gave support to us,” he said. “The only thing I can say, they want to take me out of the country, but nobody can take Canada from my heart.”
Their story made headlines after immigration officers pulled the couple’s 15-year-old daughter Kimberly and 14-year-old son Gerald Jr. out of school in April.
The couple also has a two-year-old daughter who was born in Canada.
The Lizano-Sossas claimed refugee status in 2001 because they said they were on a drug lord’s hit list and that their lives were in danger.
On Thursday, a federal court judge ruled there was no reason to let the family stay in Canada, noting they had previously failed to report for removal and didn’t tell immigration authorities where they were.
But Justice Richard Mosley did say the family’s application for residency would continue to be processed even after the deportation.
The family had strong support from the community and local politicians, including New Democrat MP Olivia Chow, Liberal MPs Boris Wrzesnewskyj, Andrew Telegdi and Mario Silva, two Catholic school board trustees and Hispanic-Canadian leaders.
“This is a very hard-working family who will be good for Canada,” Chow said. “This is a model family.”
Chow said a motion will go before Parliament in the fall to stop the deportation of all undocumented workers.