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Skyler James’ battle will continue into fall

Lesbian war resister survives first round of new hearings

Skyler James flexes her bicep, showing off a new rainbow tattoo. Credit: Neil McKinnon

US lesbian war resister Skyler James thought all would be said and done after a gruelling two-day Federal Court immigration hearing this week. But she found out she has to come back in October for another hearing.

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

But after having her fingers crossed since she sought refuge in Canada soil in 2007, James, a 22-year-old former soldier, is keeping her head up and spirits high.

“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,” says James. 

While an emotional week has come to an end, James says she’s received a lot of phone calls and emails from friends. She has always remained close to her mother, who still lives in James’ hometown in Texas.

When James came to Canada in 2007, James was 19. Now 22, she has fought the entire first few years of adulthood – and the most powerful government in the world. She says she is accustomed to fighting, and she is okay with doing more of it.

James also talked about her new tattoo symbolic to her experiences. While she was in the army, she had a large cut on her left bicep. As a result, a lengthy scar remains. Instead of having blood drip, she had it appear as though the rainbow colours are dripping.

“I got that scar in the army. I was mistreated because I was lesbian and so I left. It was important for me to connect the two (in the tattoo),” says James.

James says she wants to continue sharing her experience, strength and hope in places where it could help others.

Xtra could not reach Jamie Liew, James’ lawyer, in time for comment.

James crashed and slept yesterday after the hearing, but she says she plans to party with her friends tonight.

She says she needs to unwind — and keep her hopes up for her next immigration hearing on Oct 8.