Paola Ortiz needs real “adequate support”

Canada is renowned for its so-called multicultural and welcoming policy with immigrants. This, however, may not hold true with the recent deportation of Paola Ortiz, a 31-year-old woman ordered to return to Mexico.
Amid protests to allow Ortiz to remain in Montreal with her children and new husband, who are Canadian citizens, the Federal Court of Canada recently denied suspension of her deportation despite another appeal by Ortiz’s lawyers. Ortiz claims that her ex-husband in Mexico is abusive and will have her killed upon her return, but Canadian officials decided to deport her anyway.
From a humanitarian perspective, what does this say about Canada? Officials claim that Ortiz “can receive adequate support in Mexico” to stop the abuse. With Ortiz claiming refugee status in Canada in 2006 and later applying to be a permanent Canadian resident, though, she clearly feels this is not true. She found a full-time job and for once, she said, lives “a normal life without violence.” She fled everything she knew to start over. She applied for permanent residency to be “saved” from her abusive relationship and was turned down.
Ortiz must leave behind her two children. The conscious decision to leave a four-year-old awaiting surgery for a hearing disability and a two-year-old with autism and not bring them with her to Mexico can only prove her faith that this country is a safer place than home.
What about her ex, a Mexican police officer? The Immigration Review Board is under pressure to provide a better explanation than their overused excuse that Ortiz “can receive adequate support” to prevent her from harm. They say that she can be treated for the conjugal violence she was subjected to.
This same country, however, treated her for post-traumatic stress after she fled Mexico and years of abuse from many parties, including her ex-husband, who is immune from prosecution because he is a police officer. How can a country that claims to be “hard on crime” and seek equal justice seriously feel that an inability to prosecute a criminal can be classified as “adequate support”? What kind of support can be defined as “adequate”? The term remains undefined.
It is also interesting to consider that, just under two years ago, a Mexican woman was deported from Canada, only to be killed by drug traffickers she had tried to evade in Canada. Furthermore, a family that had applied for asylum but was denied by Canadian officials returned on Sept. 22 after their deportation was overturned. It seems that none of this was considered in Ortiz’s case.
Daniel Veron, of Solidarity Across Borders, says that Ortiz’s situation is one of many deportation cases based on meeting government refugee quotas rather than humanitarian grounds. Based on the evidence, he can’t be too far from the truth.
It seems as though the decision was rushed, without any true attempt to help Ortiz. She married a Canadian citizen and, pending his sponsorship of her, would have obtained her citizenship. Alas, no such opportunity presented itself. Her children are Canadian citizens and therefore allowed to stay, but Paola Ortiz, after living here for over three years (a citizenship requirement) and marrying a Canadian citizen, is not. Its almost illogical.
Canada’s reputation as a ‘welcoming’ country for immigrants has certainly been tarnished. Widely considered too harsh, this ruling suggests that quotas supersede humanity in Canadian immigration. The justification behind her deportation was vague and contradictory. Her case has been coined “a Canadian disgrace” by the Coop média de Montréal, and several federal and provincial parties have asked that the deportation ruling be overturned.
With such outcry for a different outcome, a different action should have been considered. But it wasn’t, and after robbing Paola Ortiz of her family, her normal life, and likely her safety, Canada has a lot to answer for.
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