Persecution claims fail to halt deportation

The Canadian Border Services Agency has refuse to back down in the face of claims its deportation of a young Mexican man will condemn him to persecution and violence.

Leonardo Zuniga, 25, arrived in Canada in 2004, filing an unsuccessful refugee claim that was appealed.

Since then he has been a model citizen, volunteering with various Toronto social agencies and picking up an award for photography and queer activism

He claims to have gathered 1,500 signatures calling for him to be able to stay and says six city councillors are on his side.

“I am afraid and concerned for myself and my family,” Zuniga said.

“I have been threatened and would have to hide from people in Mexico,” he added.

“I cannot go back to Mexico as a gay man and live a free life.”

Helen Kennedy, of gay-rights group EGALE Canada, said “Leo has made a valuable contribution to the community,” and claimed her group is lobbying Immigration minister Diane Finley to let Zuniga stay.

“Mexico ranks second in anti-gay crimes in the world,” No One Is Illegal activist Farrah Miranda pointed out.

Mr Zuniga’s chances are not particularly encouraging, however.

His appeals have now all been exhausted and, although no date is set for his departure, he is slated for deportation to Mexico City.