TORONTO – "The USW calls on Immigration Minister Jason Kenney to grant Iraq War resister Kimberly Rivera's application to stay in Canada," said Ken Neumann, United Steelworkers (USW) National Director.
"The minister can choose to step in and allow Kimberly and her family to stay on humanitarian and compassionate grounds," said Neumann. "Two of Kimberly's children were born here, yet the process for deporting her failed to consider the wellbeing of her family."
Rivera is to be deported on Sept. 20, according to a Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA) for Rivera, her husband Mario and their four young children (two of whom are Canadian citizens).
Rivera joined the U.S. Army when she was 24 and was stationed in Iraq. She believed the U.S. efforts would make her country safer and bring democracy to Iraq. Disillusioned by the reality of civilian casualties and Iraqi children devastated by loss and filled with fear, she came to Canada in 2007 and applied for refugee status. Rivera felt she could no longer participate in a war where she was contributing to causing harm and death to innocent people.
The USW has supported U.S. Iraq War resisters since 2004 when the first war resister arrived in Canada. The Toronto Steelworkers Hall is offered for the War Resisters Support Campaign's public meetings.
Members of the USW are encouraged to sign the War Resisters Support Campaign's petition and call Minister Kenney to ask that he allow the Rivera family to stay in Canada.
During the Vietnam War, 100,000 war resisters came to Canada and more than half of them remain here today. Many of them volunteered and, like Kimberly, later developed moral objections to the war that they could not ignore. In the 1970s, conscientious objectors who had voluntarily joined the U.S. military were accepted as permanent residents here without distinction from those who were drafted.
"Across the country, war resisters, including some who are now Steelworkers, were accepted here because they could not in good conscience participate in a war. They, and all of the Vietnam War resisters, have made invaluable contributions to Canadian society and to our economy," said Neumann.
Public opinion polling shows that a majority of Canadians want our government to continue that tradition today. A 2008 Angus Reid poll found that 64% of Canadians would let U.S. military deserters stay in Canada.
Ken Neumann, United Steelworkers National Director, 416-544-5951
Bob Gallagher, United Steelworkers, 416-544-5966 firstname.lastname@example.org