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“All I want for Christmas is Daniel to be free”

24 DECEMBER 2010

“All I want for Christmas is Daniel to be free”
Urgent community rally to stop Parkdale student deportation

Instead of volunteering at the church where he usually volunteers every Saturday morning, Daniel Garcia will spend Christmas Day in an immigration detention centre, awaiting deportation.

Friends, teachers, classmates and parishioners are gathering on Christmas Day at St. Casimir's Church (156 Roncesvalles Avenue) at 2pm in Parkdale to stop Daniel's deportation, asking that the Immigration Minister grant Daniel temporary status and allow him to have his Pre-Removal Risk Assessment fairly heard. Daniel Castorena Garcia was randomly ID checked by police and handed over to Immigration Enforcement late Thursday night.

“All I want for Christmas is for Daniel to be free and safe and here with me and his friends”, says 17 year old Martina K., Daniel's girlfriend who heard about Daniel Garcia's detention at 8am this morning and is worried that Daniel's life is under threat in Mexico.

Daniel Castorena Garcia came to Canada as a refugee claimant from Mexico in 2007, and is a student at Parkdale Collegiate Institute high school, a member of the student co-op program, and a volunteer and parishioner at St. Casimir's Church.

“Daniel's PRRA application was incorrectly filled out after his previous lawyer died”, says lawyer Karin Baqi. “He was the victim of bad advice and was in the middle of rectifying his immigration situation.”

Daniel filed a refugee claim seeking protection after his family faced threats to their lives in Mexico, and his sister's partner was murdered without police intervention. Daniel was also attacked and forced to leave Mexico to save his life.

As of the time of his arrest, Daniel had not received a decision on the application to stay his removal. “I was walking down Parkdale, when the Police showed up, demanded to see my ID for no reason, then their system told them that there is an Immigration warrant for me”, says Daniel Garcia, who is presently being held at Rexdale Immigration Holding Centre. “I was so surprised, because I'd been waiting for my decision all this time, I really want to stay in Toronto.”

Upon arrest, the Canadian Border Services Agency claimed that they had mailed Daniel a decision on his file a month ago.

“Daniel is an integral part of my ESL E class. Deporting him now would cause him to lose the credits that he is striving for through considerable hard work, and it would also deeply upset his classmates and friends", says Hillel Heinstein, Daniel's teacher. "I also fear that his safety will be in danger. I believe that Daniel should be allowed to properly file his PRRA, for he has received insufficient legal help through no fault of his own."

“Daniel is a dear friend, and a great student”, says 16 year old Akira Kato-Mckerr, Daniel's classmate. “We want Daniel's deportation stopped."

Over a hundred friends, parishioners and classmates will be in attendance.

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For more information,
Akira Kato-Mckerr, 416 878 5352