Sanctuary group calls for public support during week of action

By Gordon Lambie
Sanctuary group calls for public support during week of action
Manolo Rodriguez-Flores, Georgina Flores, and Manuel Rodriguez with their lawyer, Stewart Istvanffy in the sanctuary of Plymouth Trinity United Church on Monday (Photo : Gordon Lambie)

Speaking from the pulpit of Plymouth Trinity United Church in Sherbrooke on Monday morning, the lawyer representing the Rodriguez-Flores family said that the upcoming week of action represents an important moment in the effort to allow them to stay in the country.

“To me, the actions of this week of solidarity are the key to resolving this situation,” Stewart Istvanffy said, arguing that public opinion and shows of solidarity are a significant way of sending a message because of the fact that the fight to grant the family residency on humanitarian grounds is more a political one at this point than a legal one. “These people will not be heard without the support of their community.”

Although the lawyer said that ultimately the family’s ability to leave the church that they have lived in for close to half a year now depends on the lifting of the deportation order currently in effect and the granting of some kind of temporary or permanent residency status, progress has been blocked in a way that more or less requires political intervention.

“My feeling is that if we can get someone in the (immigration) minister’s cabinet and at the level of the Prime Minister’s office to look at the case, probably they will be allowed to stay, but if nobody looks at it and it’s just the machine turning then they will be deported,” Istvanffy said, explaining that the decision the family made to take sanctuary in a church (made out of fear of the dangers of returning to Mexico) likely placed their file in a position where the ministry won’t want to make a formal decision because they are acting in violation of their deportation order.

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