Canada is deporting a US soldier who fled the US military in order to avoid being shipped out to the war in Iraq, according to officials on Thursday.
War Resisters Support Campaign spokeswoman Michelle Robidoux confirmed that the Citizenship and Immigration Canada is forcing Kimberly Rivera to leave the country by September 20, reports The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Robidoux stated:
“We are very upset about this decision. The cases of war resisters are not being looked at properly. (Immigration Minister Jason) Kenney continues to intervene by telling immigration officers to red flag U.S. soldiers who are applying for asylum as criminally inadmissible. We think that has tainted the whole process and the government should withdraw that directive.”
Kenney’s spokeswoman, Alexis Pavlich, argued back that Canada’s immigration system is one of the most fair and generous in the world, and that public records show Rivera has had many opportunities to make her case to stay in Canada.
Kimberly Rivera arrived in Canada in February 2007 after serving one tour of duty in Iraq in 2006. She crossed the border after she was ordered to serve another tour there, and applied for refugee status. But now, Canada has decided to deport the US soldier and her family.
Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board ordered Rivera and her family to leave Canada or face deportation in January 2009, but Rivera appealed the ruling. Alyssa Manning, Rivera’s attorney, argued in Canada’s federal court that Rivera will most likely face a court martial and jail time up to five years if she were to be deported, according to Fox News.
The War Resisters Support Campaign notes that two other Iraq war deserters have been deported from Canada already. Each faced year-long jail sentence upon their return.
While the lower house of Canada’s Parliament passed a nonbinding motion in 2009 saying that US military deserters should be allowed to stay in Canada, the Conservative government ignored the vote. 90,000 Americans won refuge in Canada during the Vietnam War, although most went home after President Jimmy Carter granted amnesty in the late 1970s. Along with the US soldier Canada is deporting, there are currently about 200 Iraq War deserters living in Canada.