By Jessica Lovell
Joselyn Enriquez-Colin is torn. By the end of the week, her mother and two younger sisters are required to return to their native Mexico, having had their application for refugee status denied. But she will be staying.
Enriquez-Colin is the lucky one; as a graduate of a Canadian university, the 26-year-old was able to apply for permanent residency through different channels.
“For me, it will be a really hard thing to do,” she said, speaking of the guilt she feels in staying while her family is forced to leave. She is also afraid for their safety.
“That sense of safety we have achieved here, it will be taken away from us if they have to go back,” she said in an interview Friday.
Enriquez-Colin and her mother, Maria-Elena Colin-Gonzalez, were visiting Our Lady of Lourdes high school, where youngest sister Nallely Enriquez-Collins is a student. They came to tell the family’s story as the school community rallies around them to show its support.
In a YouTube video posted by the school Friday, Nallely tells the story of how her family was kidnapped when she was in Grade 3.
“I’m afraid of going back to Mexico, because since I’m the youngest one in my family, I’m kind of the target for anything bad,” she said.
The family – the three girls and their mother and father – came to Canada in 2007 with the goal of starting a new life, said her older sister.
Following the incident they were unable to feel safe and go back to their normal lives in Mexico.
But when they arrived in Canada, the family did not use this incident as their reason for leaving Mexico. Instead, they came first as visitors, and in 2008 got work permits to start up a business.
The business eventually failed, and the girls’ father went back to Mexico to work and send money to his family in Canada.
But no work permits meant the family could not stay. They were advised to apply for refugee status.
The application was denied in February of this year. The reason: Mexico is a working democracy and is considered a safe country, the older girl explained.
“We are not considered as persons in need of protection,” she said.
But the family is fearful that having lived in Canada, they might be seen as wealthy when they return, making them a potential target.
While Joselyn is waiting for her permanent residency, her mother and sisters – one of whom is a student at Wilfred Laurier’s Brantford campus – have applied for humanitarian and compassionate considerations. But until their application is processed, which could take years, they have to go.
“We just want the opportunity to stay here until the application on humanitarian and compassionate grounds is reviewed,” said Joselyn, speaking on behalf of her mother and sisters.
Besides posting the YouTube video, Nallely’s school is helping by encouraging students to write letters, email Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and use Twitter and Facebook to share the story.
Some students and staff went along with the family on a trip to Ottawa Monday to protest the deportation. Meanwhile, Lourdes staff and students back in Guelph took part in a vigil at the school to show unity and support.
The YouTube video is at www.youtube.com/watch?=6DvLp1InJ5o. Twitter messages are being posted with #protectionfornallelynow.