A mother of two is facing deportation after being arrested by Canada Border Services Agency officers last April.
Janina Ibarra has been living in Metro Vancouver for 14 years after moving to Canada at age 15. She’s married to a Canadian man, and has two boys, ages 7 and 10.
Ibarra says she may be deported to Sri Lanka as a result of clerical mistakes dating back more than 10 years. Her Sri Lankan passport — a necessary document to apply for citizenship — went missing somewhere between Canadian Immigration and the Sri Lankan High Commission when she first applied for citizenship.
For years, Ibarra tried to sort out the problem, but she was never able to obtain Canadian citizenship. She eventually gave up out of frustration — a mistake she’s now well aware of.
“It’s really mind-boggling to have a husband who’s Canadian and children who were born here,” she told CTV Vancouver. “Many people think it’s a slam dunk case and a lot of people don’t understand the hardships that go with the legal side of things.”
Just two weeks ago, Ibarra was arrested outside her Vancouver home.
“The officers come out and yell in your face and you’re under arrest,” she said. “They read me my rights, they handcuff and body check for weapons, and then take me downtown.”
Ibarra’s husband, Eliseo Ibarra, now fears the family could be torn apart.
“It’s really devastating to think she could leave us, that she could leave me,” he told CTV Vancouver.
But immigration lawyer Lawrence Wong says he doubts Ibarra will be forced to return to Sri Lanka.
“To me, at this stage, it’s sort of a mystery as to why she’s being deported,” he told CTV Vancouver. “If this person has a Canadian spouse and children born in Canada, that would be quite unusual.”
For now, the Ibarras are trying to build a case so that the mother of two can stay in Canada with her family.
(With files from CTV Van)