Deportation pending for family living in B.C. 13 years after assault prompted flee from Mexico

Dozens gathered outside a Metro Vancouver school Monday night protesting what they call flaws in Canada's immigration system.

The rally outside an elementary school in New Westminster was in support of a family facing deportation to Mexico 13 years after they fled the country.

The couple made a refugee claim when they first arrived in Canada, but that claim was denied.

They didn't have a lawyer and they didn't speak English very well so, they said, they didn't know how to appeal the decision.

Since then, Alberto Mendez and his wife, Adriana Rosales, have lived in B.C. as undocumented migrants. They now have a daughter.

Last summer, the couple connected with a lawyer and filed an immigration application seeking to remain in Canada on humanitarian grounds, but in November, after dropping her daughter off at Lord Tweedsmuir Elementary School, Rosales was arrested.

Her arrest by Canada Border Service Agency officers sparked outrage in the community. An organizer of the rally called it "shocking and terrifying," and said the arrest made people afraid to go to school.

The New Westminster Sanctuary Schools policy means all kids, no matter their immigration status, can attend.

Hundreds of people from the school community have written letters to the federal immigration minister asking him to approve the family's application before they are deported on July 8.

A volunteer with Sanctuary Health, an advocacy group supporting migrants, said the couple left Mexico after Mendez was assaulted.

The group said the assault happened after Mendez refused to join a criminal organization.

It says the couple was scared for their lives, and hoped for a better, safer life in Canada.

Sanctuary Health said many migrants in Canada who are in that situation want to do the proper paperwork and live here legally, but the system is set up to fail them.