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War resister's deportation on hold

Iraq war resister Kimberly Rivera and her family will be allowed to stay in Canada at least a little longer.

The former American soldier received news late last night that the Federal Court had granted her an emergency stay of removal, cancelling the deportation order that was set for this morning.

Rivera had earlier been told to appear at the Niagara Falls border crossing at 9 a.m. with her husband Mario and their three children.

Immigration critics from all opposition parties held a press conference yesterday, asking the Harper government to intervene and stop the deportation.

“The Conservative government wants to separate this mother from her infant child, and send her to a military prison for having made the tough decision to follow her conscience,” said Liberal MP Maurizio Bevilacqua in a press release.

Rivera, originally from Texas, was deployed to Iraq in the fall of 2006. While at home on leave she decided to seek refuge in Canada and arrived in February 2007.

According to a statement from the War Resisters Support Campaign, yesterday’s court decision recognizes that the U.S. military provides differential treatment for soldiers who speak out against the war.

“Kim has been quite outspoken and has spoken to media here,” Michelle Robidoux, spokesperson for the campaign told The Hook yesterday.

Three other war resisters, all who were living in B.C, have already been deported from Canada.

Last week, NDP Immigration critic Olivia Chow and Liberal MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj visited Robin Long, who is serving a 15-month sentence in a military prison in San Diego.

The House of Commons passed a motion last June calling on the government to stop deporting war resisters and establish a program to facilitate the granting of permanent resident status.

This was reaffirmed last month in a motion by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration that called for an end to deportations.

“There is a Canadian consensus on the Iraq war, yet this government is operating very much outside that consensus,” said Robidoux.

A public opinion poll by Angus Reid last June revealed that 64 per cent of Canadians polled want the government to allow war resisters to become permanent residents.

The Support Campaign estimates there are approximately 200 war resisters currently living in Canada.

Garrett Zehr reports for The Hook.

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