A family from Mexico is being threatened with Deportation after going through the legal process of coming to Canada while thousands of people have walked across the border to open arms and financial support. (Photo Credit – Al Charest/Postmedia)
In 2012, Guillermo Rojas Vertiz, his wife, Irma Canut, and their two children were visiting the Calgary area. After checking into a hotel in Okotoks, they realized that it was Halloween and quickly headed to Walmart for costumes. The welcome they received in the neighbourhood made them realize that this where they wanted to raise their children and open a restaurant.
Vertiz and his family have not been a financial burden to Canada. He is a in industrial engineer with a master’s degree in business administration while his wife is a psychologist and early childhood educator. They have set up their home and business in Okotoks, and injected more than $1 million into the local economy — hiring all local businesses to build their dreams. They have also spent a lot on lawyers.
“We have followed every rule and done everything right, from the beginning to the end,” says Vertiz. “We hired lawyers and consultants to help us with the process, we have invested all of our savings here in Canada, our children are honour students and love it here, and now the government says we don’t qualify, so I really don’t understand,” he says.
It’s very stressful,” says Canut, who is working at an Okotoks daycare and a foundation that helps children with special needs. “And despite all this stress, we have never been as happy as we have been here. We love the peace and security here,” says Canut, who is also a talented artist — her paintings and sculptures evident throughout their home which has been decorated for Christmas. “In Mexico, we had to be more on alert for our children, but here we can let them be a bit more free, and that holds a lot of value but we have paid a very heavy price to enjoy that,” she adds.
The family was let into Canada because they planned to start their own business, Cafe Cancun. After receiving legal advice, Guillermo made his 50 per cent share in the family business non-voting shares, and was hired as the general manager of the cafe. They followed legal direction to the T.
On July 31st, an immigration officer ruled that Vertiz’s application for permanent resident status in Canada through Express Entry under the Canadian Experience Class was refused on the basis that his employment from September 2013 to May 2018 was deemed to be “self-employed” and not an employee.
The Canada Revenue Agency, however, ruled that Guillermo is an employee. The CRA found that although Canut and Vertiz are related, “we concluded that you would have had a substantially similar contract of employment if you were not related.”
The couple’s latest lawyer, Michael Greene, wrote in a Nov. 26 letter seeking a reconsideration of Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada’s decision denying the family’s permanent residency application: “It is incongruent for two departments of the Canadian government to find, on exactly the same facts, that Mr. Vertiz is an employee for the purposes of income taxation . . . but self-employed for the purposes of permanent residence, particularly when they are all applying essentially the same test.”
On top of the stress of possible deportaion, the building that they had been fixing up to open their business in, flooded and now they are dealing with insurance and their landlord after spending about $450,000 in renovations.
Their MP, John Barlow, managed to get the couple’s work permit extended for two years, but without permanent residence status, the couple cannot take out a loan to continue with their business plans.
“I love it here,” says the couple’s daughter, Constanza, 15. “I’ve made a lot of really great friends and am doing well in school,” she adds before heading off to one of those friend’s homes to watch a movie. Their son, Guillermo Jr., 12, concurs.
Inge French has become the family’s best friend — their Canadian family.
“I’m not exaggerating when I say this,” says the local real estate agent, “but I have never met higher quality people, ever.
“They are kind, hard-working, educated, articulate, loving. I love them, I really do. They are everything that Canada should want to roll out the red carpet for, and yet the way they’ve been treated has been shameful. I’ve never been more embarrassed for Canada,” says French.
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