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Lesbian war resister Skyler James wraps up immigration hearing

Immigration board has 60 days from Oct 8 to make a decision

Lesbian war resister Skyler James finished the third and final part of a Federal Court immigration hearing on Oct 8.

This particular hearing followed a full, two-day hearing in August. The hearings were intended to end by then, but James’s lawyer, Jamie Liew, says it was carried to Oct because they were unable to finish within the time scheduled.

While James was not available for comment, Liew says her client is “remaining hopeful, resilient” has “a strong sense of spirit” and “keeps a positive attitude.”

“Now that we’re doing the waiting game, she’s nervous,” says Liew.

From early morning to late afternoon, Liew says, a representative from the minister’s council was aggressive in trying to display how James is not a refugee.

“The hearing didn’t lead one way or another. It’s hard to say what will happen, but I will have more to say when the decision comes out,” says Liew.

This week’s immigration hearing comes after James won an appeal at the Federal Court of Appeals that overturned her rejected asylum claim last year. The appeals body ordered fresh hearings for James.

James, born Bethany Smith, fled a Kentucky army base in 2007, claiming her life was in danger because of homophobia in the US Army. Nineteen then and now 22, she has fought the entire first few years of adulthood against the most powerful government in the world. In a previous interview with Xtra, she said she is accustomed to fighting and she does not mind doing more of it.

“I’m no longer worried about being deported. It doesn’t scare me. Definitely not right now. I know I can’t be deported until a decision is made. And even then, I can still appeal that decision,” said James in an interview last August.

Liew says the immigration board must decide within 60 days whether James will be allowed to remain in Canada or be transported south of the border and be tried as an American army deserter.