Good news, for a change. After 18 months of sanctuary in a Winnipeg church, the Raza family is no longer in imminent threat of deportation.
A year has passed since I wrote about their situation in this space. Over that period, countless numbers of people have expressed their support and solidarity with the family in many ways.
The news release, issued by Reverend Barb Janes of Crescent Fort Rouge United Church follows. She and her congregation merit the admiration and respect of all Canadians. They have shown that citizens can stand up for justice and win.
On August 3, 2006, Crescent Fort Rouge United Church made a decision to offer sanctuary to the Raza family. We did this quickly, but not lightly, believing the well-being of the six Raza children would be in jeopardy should they be deported to Pakistan. Today, February 29, 2008, we are delighted to announce that the Raza family has been granted Temporary Resident Status, and their time of sanctuary is ended. This is the first step in a process that should see the Raza family obtain their Permanent Resident Status under the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program.
We are deeply thankful to the family’s lawyer, Kenneth Zaifman, for his work on this case. Our lawyer worked with the Immigration Canada and Canadian Border Services Agency to find a solution that balanced the circumstances that the Razas found themselves in and the requirements of the Immigration Act.
The family will continue to live with us while appropriate housing is found, and as we navigate a time of transition, both for the Razas and for the many volunteers who have been working with them. For 18 months, Crescent Fort Rouge United has been both home and prison to the family, and the change for the Raza family and for us in the church will be enormous. We have formed deep bonds, and we look forward to continuing to support the family as they return to our community, and begin a new life among us.
It has been an amazing journey, and there are many, many people to thank, both within the walls of this church and beyond. A public celebration is in the planning stages, but for now, we simply offer our thanks, and share with the Razas relief and joy.