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Montreal family fighting deportation to Nigeria can stay for now, advocates say

Deborah Adegboye (left to right), NDP MP Alexandre Boulerice and Quebec Soldaire MLA Guillaume Cliche-Rivard attend an event as community groups gather outside federal Immigration Minister Marc Miller's Montreal office on Friday, March 29, 2024. Advocates for a Montreal family fighting deportation to Nigeria say they have been granted temporary permission to stay. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Thomas MacDonald

MONTREAL — Advocates for a Montreal family fighting deportation to Nigeria say they have been granted temporary permission to stay in Canada.

Quebec legislature member Guillaume Cliche-Rivard says an April 5 deportation order has been cancelled for Deborah Adegboye, her husband and their children.

Cliche-Rivard, who is also an immigration lawyer, says federal immigration officials have granted the family a temporary residence permit that will allow them to remain in the country while they pursue a bid for permanent residence on humanitarian grounds.

Adegboye and her husband arrived in Quebec from Nigeria with their first child as asylum seekers in 2017 via the now-shuttered Roxham Road crossing, fleeing what she has described as religious persecution by a dangerous Nigerian cult.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Adegboye and her husband have worked as orderlies providing health care to vulnerable patients, while adding two more children to their family.

A spokesperson for the Welcome Collective, which helped organize a rally in support of the family last week, said Adegboye and her family are thrilled and relieved to be able to stay.

The office of federal Immigration Minister Marc Miller did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In a phone interview, Cliche-Rivard said the immigration minister's decision to grant a reprieve was the right one. 

"These are people who are making an exceptional contribution," said Cliche-Rivard, who is a member of the opposition Quebec solidaire party. "Both are patient attendants for very vulnerable people. Their children are educated in French, and they've been here since 2017." 

While he's happy with the decision, he said their experience shows the need to develop programs that quickly offer permanent status to immigrants who work essential jobs. 

"It's a bit a failure of the system that it got this far," he said.

Maryse Poisson of the Welcome Collective said she managed to speak with the family on Tuesday afternoon, and she said they're "very relieved" to be able to stay. 

However, she said she's also thinking of other families who are facing deportation "in the shadows" without having the same attention drawn to their cause.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 2, 2024.

The Canadian Press

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