Iraq war resister Kimberly Rivera faces a military court-martial once deported from Canada back to the US. (Photo: Courage to Resist)
The Canadian government has ordered the deportation of Kimberly Rivera, the first US woman Iraq war veteran resister to go to Canada, and four other US war resisters. Rivera, her husband and three children, including a newborn daughter, must depart Canada by January 27 or be deported. Rivera now lives in Toronto with her husband Mario, son Christian (six years), daughter Rebecca (four years), and newborn Canadian daughter Katie (six weeks).
Rivera served in the US Army in Iraq in 2006, but refused a second tour in Iraq in 2007 and instead took her family to Canada. Her first tour in Iraq convinced Rivera that the war was immoral and that she could not participate in it.
Rivera's Pre-Removal Risk assessment application and request to stay in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds were denied by the conservative Stephen Harper government, although the Canadian government refused to join the Bush coalition of the willing and join in on the war in Iraq. The Canadian military's participation in the war in Afghanistan has been controversial as Canadian casualties rise.
The War Resisters Support Campaign in Canada believes the Canadian Immigration Minister's decision to deport Rivera and four other US war resisters is based on the need to have the deportations completed before the Canadian Parliament returns in late January. The Parliament adopted a resolution in June 2008 that recommended to the Harper government that "conscientious objectors" to wars that are not authorized by the United Nations be allowed to apply for permanent residence status in Canada.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has said that the refugee claims of war resisters are "bogus" and that he "has no sympathy for them." Kenney has made it clear that his government intends to go against the will of Parliament and the will of Canadians.
If Rivera and the other US war resisters are deported to the United States or return voluntarily, they will face a military court-martial. Robin Long, the only other US soldier to be deported from Canada, was court-martialed in 2008 at Fort Carson, Colorado, and received a 15-month prison sentence and a dishonorable discharge, the longest sentence given to a war resister during the Iraq war.
Other US war resisters in Canada face deportation even earlier than Rivera. Chris Teske has a deportation date of January 20, Patrick Hart, his wife Jill and their son on January 29 and Dean Walcott on January 30.
Several other war resisters in Canada are appealing negative decisions in Canadian Federal Court. The court has stayed the removal orders of war resisters Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman and Matt Lowell. The Hart family faces deportation January 29 and will ask the court for a similar stay.
Corey Glass has since been granted a new application to stay on Humanitarian & Compassionate grounds. Jeremy Hinzman's appeal date for his negative decision has been set for February 10 and Matt Lowell is waiting to hear whether his appeal will be heard.
There are several Canadian groups actively opposing the government's actions. For further information on those efforts, contact the War Resisters Support Campaign.