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Church St regular faces imminent deportation

Friends rally around young, HIV-positive Mexican man

The friends of a Mexican man facing imminent deportation are rallying in a last-ditch effort to allow him to stay in Canada.

Victor Alex Chay Rodriguez, 20, was detained by immigration officials on Oct 19. He’s scheduled to be returned to Mexico on Oct 23.

“He’s very effeminate, very cute… a young guy,” says friend David Garcia. “He was abandoned by his own family. They didn’t care to support him in this [immigration] process. So friends are trying to do whatever we can do to stop the deportation.

“He was a fugitive, illegal. He was hiding. Well, kind of hiding because he really had an open life on Church St as a drag queen. We know him as Zuleyka.”

Garcia, who is a former president of the queer Latino group Hola, says he fears Rodriguez will die if he is returned to Mexico. He says it’s unlikely that Rodriguez, who is HIV-positive and currently undergoing treatment, will be able to continue to get the drugs he needs if he’s deported.

“In Mexico there are problems with the distribution of antiretrovirals and HIV treatments…. His doctor already sent a layer to the immigration officer,” says Garcia.

Garcia says Rodriguez, who has been living without legal status in Canada for about a year, deserves another chance at the refugee process because mistakes were made in his original applications.

“There were many irregularities in his case since he came to Canada in 2005,” says Garcia. “They made mistakes in the personal information file…. They made mistakes in the refugee application. They made lots of mistakes in the PRRA [preremoval risk assessment] application.”

Speaking on Oct 23 from immigration holding centre on Rexdale Blvd where he is being detained, Rodriguez says that his HIV-status was not taken into account when he was denied refugee status.

Rodriguez says when he originally filed for refugee status it was with his mother on the grounds that they were fleeing family violence. “When I became an adult I applied based on my sexual orientation… and for the federal court [appeal] and the PRRA it was the same thing.

“I was refused… because they told me I would be safe in another city in Mexico. I’m from the south and they told me I should move to the north.”

Garcia says he and other friends have spent the days since Rodriguez was detained trying to find a lawyer to represent him.

“Last night we started a collection,” says Garcia. “We raised $1,000 to pay a lawyer to go to the federal court and do this application that can stop the deportation.”

Rodriguez confirms that he does now have legal representation and that his new lawyer is attempting to have his deportation order stayed so that he can attend a hearing in his case on Oct 27.

“If I am here I have a hearing to see if I’m going to continue in detention or if they’re going to let me go on bond,” he says.

If successful, Rodriguez he will have to file a second PRRA based on his sexual orientation and HIV status in hopes that he won’t be refused refugee status a fourth time.