Jeremy Hinzman Gets To Stay!

September 22, 2008.

U.S. army deserter, family win stay of deportation.

U.S. army deserter Jeremy Hinzman and his family were granted a last-minute stay of deportation Monday by a Federal Court judge while the court decides whether to hear their appeal.

The family was ordered to leave Canada by Tuesday or face forcible deportation to the U.S., where Hinzman faces prosecution for fleeing to Canada in 2004 rather than deploying with his army unit to Iraq.

Hinzman, 39, his wife and two young children asked for the stay while the court decides whether to review a decision by Citizenship and Immigration officials not to let the family remain in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. They are also trying to appeal their pre-removal risk assessment.

Supporters of the family staged a demonstration outside the Federal Court in downtown Toronto while waiting for the judge to hand down the decision.

Hinzman said last week that he didn't expect the stay of deportation to be granted.

His claim for refugee status was rejected by the Immigration and Refugee Board in 2005. An appeal to the Federal Court of Appeal also failed, with the court ruling that he wouldn't face any serious punishment if he returned to the U.S.

The Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear his case.

Hinzman's lawyer argued Monday that deserters who have been publicly critical of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq have received harsher punishment after returning to the U.S.

"We are very happy that the court has granted this stay of deportation," said Lee Zaslofsky, co-ordinator of the War Resisters Support Campaign. "Jeremy and his family will be allowed to remain in Canada at least until the court decides whether to hear his appeal."

"This is good news for Jeremy, his family and their many supporters across Canada," said Michelle Robidoux, an organizer with the campaign. "But we continue to call on Immigration Minister Diane Finley to implement the motion adopted by the House of Commons on June 3, calling on the government to cease deporting Iraq war resisters."