Mexican refugee claimant murdered after deportation

Veronica Castro was a failed refugee who after being found not to be a convention refugee or a person in need of protection by the IRB was sent back to Mexico where she was killed. Her story is among the countless other stories that illustrate the need for a more sensible yet compassionate approach to refugees who seek refuge in Canada.

Her refugee claim was based on domestic abuse suffered under a family that was prone to alcoholism and parental neglect. She also suffered under the hands of her husband in the United States. She went to Canada in 2008 and filed for refugee protection claiming that returning to Mexico will expose her to danger. Unfortunately she was not able substantiate her claims to the satisfaction of the adjudicator owing to the fact that the alleged acts happened 10 years ago.

She was then deported to Canada and was believed to have been murdered or was a victim of human traffickers that were active in facilitating the entry of illegals to the United States. Her story is all the more significant because of the fact that she is from Mexico. In 2006 President Calderon launched an all out war against the drug trade. It resulted to a situation akin to a civil war. The result was forced disappearances, torture, murder and other acts of violence committed by paramilitaries, drug cartels and other criminal elements. Countless “Narco Refugees” soon flooded the United States and Canada. Some try to apply within the legal framework of the refugee/asylum process, some on the other hand simply enter the country and stay underground.

For the claimants that work within the system they go through the Immigration Refugee Board and try to convince an adjudicator that they have a valid reason to come here and stay as a convention refugee or a person in need of protection. Failure to convince the IRB will result to deportation. Since the appeal process is focused primarily on questions of law rejected applicants simply disappear into the vast underground. It is estimated that 200,000 people are living undocumented in Ontario. In 2008, the Auditor General reported that the Canadian Border Agency lost tract of 41,000 illegal immigrants.

There will be a bigger danger for most Mexicans because this July they will be considered as a “Safe Country”. This means that having had a significant rejection rate in the past makes Mexico a safe country. Therefore, processing of Mexican applicants will be faster and with this comes faster rejection.

The death of Veronica Castro may just be a footnote or a statistic in the vast immigration story. She has led a life too ordinary to be remembered. Yet it would be prudent to remember especially for our immigration establishment that for every decision they render or every appeal they hear. They are dealing with situations that often spell the difference between life and death. It is therefore incumbent upon them to ensure that they decide properly based on what is right and what is just.

Tony Santiago
Immigration Program Student at Ashton College
under the tutelage of Jose Godoy Toku

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