Avoiding Iraq, US Soldier Fled to Canada and Faced Deportation

Five years ago, US soldier Kimberly Rivera fled to Canada to avoid serving in Iraq with her husband and four children. Last week however, Citizenship and Immigration Canada issued her a deportation order giving her until September 20 to exit the country.

Evading the Call of Duty

After serving a tour in Iraq in 2006, the 30-year-old Army private crossed the border into Canada while on leave in February 2007 to avoid serving a second tour there.  Soon after her arrival, she applied for refugee status.

Military Deserters Are Not Genuine Refugees

While the Liberal government that was in power at the time when Rivera entered into Canada chose not to join the coalition, the current Conservative government led by Prime-minister Stephen Harper has made it clear that military deserters from the United States are not genuine refugees under the internationally accepted meaning of the term.

Fears of the US Soldier to Return to the US

  • Although Rivera fears that she will be sent to prison if forced to return, a spokeswoman from US-soldier-fled-to-canada-faced-deportationImmigration Minister Jason Kenney’s office commented that the office does not believe that the Obama Administration will subject deserts to persecution.
  • However, Rivera’s lawyer, Alyssa Manning commented that there is an arrest warrant out for her client and she will be immediately arrested upon crossing the border.
  • Upon her arrest, she would be placed in county jail until the military picks her up and from there, she would most likely be taken to Fort Carson near Colorado Springs (where she was stationed until she is court martialed.
  • Rivera faces a prison sentence of between two and five years.

Plan to Appeal Canadian Deportation Order

Although Rivera is clearly running out of time, Manning commented that her client is considering appealing the deportation ruling despite the fact that she has not received a decision on her application for permanent residency in Canada based on humanitarian and compassionate grounds despite the fact that she has four children between the ages of 18 months and 10 years-old.

If she appeals the deportation order, it will mark the second time she will attempt to fight being forced to return to the United States with the first one occurring in January of 2009 when Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board ordered Rivera and her family to leave Canada voluntarily or face deportation.

Escape to Canada

According to the War Resisters Support Campaign, there are approximately 200 Iraq war resisters residing in Canada and of those, two have been deported- Robert Long and Clifford Cornell who each faced year-long jail sentences upon their return to the United States.

Refugee Status in Canada

Military deserters seeking refugee status in Canada is nothing new.  During the Vietnam War, up to 90,000 Americans were granted refugee status in Canada in an effort to avoid the military draft.

While many were given permanent residency status and eventually Canadian citizenship, the majority returned to the United States after being granted amnesty in the late 1970s by President Carter.

Making an Appeal

A competent immigration lawyer is necessary to file an appeal. Niren and Associates is among the most trusted immigration firms in Canada and the United States. It has over 15 years of experience in handling immigration issues and has a dedicated team of licensed immigration attorneys who are capable of helping clients. Contact us for more information if you are facing deportation or are looking to immigrate to Canada.

Michael Niren

About Michael Niren

Michael is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section and the Associate Member of the American Bar Association. Read more

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