Family divided while bureaucratic wheels turn
BY BRENT FOX
A local family wants to be together, but one of its members awaits a decision on whether or not he can come home.
Juan Ramirez and his family are waiting on the outcome of his family class immigration application.
Canadian immigration officials deported the Wolfville businessman and local soccer builder to his native Colombia in October, 2006. He has been there since getting paperwork together for his latest immigration application.
Meanwhile, his wife and business partner, Dara, and their three children - ages seven to just under three - are left to carry on without him.
Dara continues to operate their Wolfville business, Juandaros Soccer Boutique, coach university soccer and keep things going for the kids. They were able to visit Juan in Colombia recently.
In an e-mail interview March 2, Juan said, “being away from my kids and wife has been the worse thing that they could have done to me, not being able to see them growing and helping them in their homework and other activities that they are involved. It is even harder now after their visit.”
Juan said he has to keep himself fit for the situation. “I am okay, I guess, just trying to be strong and healthy for when I get back to Canada. I’m very sad for the whole situation. I am doing some refereeing and playing to keep mentally fit.”
As for his friends in the local community, “wow, I am missing lots of people now, all the kids and parents I had met during the last 13 years. I miss coaching a lot. Seeing kids getting up in the world of soccer or any other sport; that is very rewarding.”
As for a timely and favourable conclusion to the situation, Juan said, “it has been a long time for sure. I am very hopeful and positive of the outcome of this, with all the support we are getting from friends and the community. I think it will be within the next six months or so. I cross my fingers.”
Waiting on the Canadian government
Dara says “it has been a very long time. The visit this winter, however, was great for the children. They felt as though he had just gone days before.”
The Canadian government has to approve Juan’s application to return. There’s no problem with the Colombian government.
Dara has been essentially a single mom while bureaucratic wheels turn, but has been accepted as Juan’s sponsor for the application. They have done a lot of legwork for this latest effort. “We need it to be expedited,” she said, “and the result to be favourable.” Resolution could take from six to eight months. “At the end of it all,” Dara said, “the family unit will be stronger.”
The couple met at the Gunn Baldursson soccer tournament in Wolfville in 1998. Juan’s first immigration refugee application in 1998 was denied because he had been a pilot in the Colombian armed forces before coming to Canada. He had feared harm because of that service.
However, he has a clear record from Colombia, both military and civil. Dara notes Juan represented himself at the 1998 hearing and believes he should have engaged legal counsel.
After that unsuccessful attempt, Juan had to leave the country for at least three months, returning to Canada in January, 2000. The couple began a family and built their soccer-based business, and helped to promote the local soccer scene.
The couple had been confident the businessman and community volunteer would be successful with the last application.