TORONTO — A Toronto high school student facing deportation to Mexico is in “a race against the clock” to make his case before the federal government sends him away, the teen’s lawyer said Tuesday.
Daniel Garcia’s lawyer is sending a package to the immigration minister’s office explaining his client’s situation in the hopes “there’s enough goodwill to give him a break,” he said.
“What it boils down to is a young man who’s been here for three years and he has tremendous support, he’s got great personal qualities,” Guidy Mamann told The Canadian Press.
“The problem is nobody’s really taken care to make sure somebody knows about all those things.”
Reached by phone at the detention centre, Garcia said he is “very nervous” and doesn’t want to go back to Mexico, where he fears he’ll be killed. He said thugs have already told his mother they would kill him on his return.
Garcia has been held in an immigration detention centre since he was arrested by Toronto police and handed over to immigration authorities last Thursday evening.
Mamann said the teen could be deported within days.
“The only thing stopping them from removing him is the purchase of an airline ticket for him, which could take only two days,” he added.
The 18-year-old appeared at a detention review Tuesday morning and was ordered to remain in custody. His next hearing is scheduled for Jan. 4.
Garcia received poor legal advice after his previous lawyer died, Mamann said.
The student never applied to stay on humanitarian and compassionate grounds or to obtain temporary residence. Nor did he appeal any decisions, Mamann said.
Others have said Garcia’s application for pre-removal risk assessment, which evaluates the danger the person will face if deported, was filled out incorrectly.
Garcia said Tuesday he’s had problems dealing with the intricacies of the immigration system. “If you don’t get the right thing to them, they think you’re a criminal,” he said.
Friends, classmates and community members have stepped in to defend Garcia, and held rallies on Christmas and Boxing Day.
They are urging the federal government to let the 18-year-old stay in Canada and grant him permanent residence on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.
Garcia, a student at Parkdale Collegiate Institute, arrived from Mexico with his sister Brenda Garcia in 2007.
They filed for refugee status, saying they were persecuted in Mexico because Brenda Garcia is gay, but their claim was rejected.
Garcia then submitted an application for a pre-removal risk assessment.
Garcia said he hadn’t received a decision on the application when he was arrested last Thursday evening.
The student said officials told him they mailed him a decision months ago.
Brenda Garcia was deported to Mexico on Monday.