After clamor, Canada postpones Filipino frontliner’s deportation

After concerned social media users and advocates put up a campaign to keep Filipino frontline health worker Carlo Escario in Canada until he is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the Canadian government postponed his deportation by the evening of Thursday, May 13 (Manila time).

Escario, 36, was an intensive care unit worker at the Toronto General Hospital treating COVID-19 patients. He was set for deportation on Thursday because of misrepresentation in his permanent residence (PR) application.

The health worker and his lawyer Natalie Domazet requested a 40-day deferral of his deportation so he could get his second Pfizer-BioNTech shot against the coronavirus disease, which was scheduled on June 11. Initially, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) rejected the request.

But on Thursday, as Escario checked in his bags to get on the plane back to Manila, his assigned CBSA officer called to inform him he could stay, according to Escario’s cousin Andrea Lacson. Escario is set to go home on June 22 instead.

In an email to Rappler, Domazet said the information on who rendered the decision was not immediately available. She had also not received any documentation on the decision yet and could not definitively comment on how it was reached, but that she believes “that the social media campaign certainly attracted the government’s attention and played a large role in this outcome.”

“It felt like I was in a movie,” Escario said in a Toronto Star report. 

Domazet said Escario understands and accepts responsibility for his mistake, but hoped that his contributions to the health industry during the pandemic would be recognized.

Community support

Domazet added that her client was “overwhelmed with appreciation” for the support the social media campaign gathered, as people went the distance to lobby with their local Members of Parliament (MPs) for Escario to stay.

Campaigner Monica de Vera crafted a Google Doc that contained letter templates and step-by-step instructions on how to get in touch with MPs.

“I’m humbled by the efforts from our community. I am at work right now but it's hard to concentrate because I am overwhelmed with joy. Carlo deserves to stay in Canada and I'm so honored to have helped,” De Vera said in a message to Rappler.

“I believe that this is a perfect example of the appreciation that Canadians have for their frontline workers and the sentiment that those who have stepped up for this country during a time of need ought to be treated with the utmost compassion and admiration,” said Domazet.

According to immigration lawyer Lou Janssen Dangzalan, it is within Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino’s power to confer PR status to Escario even after revocation and removal on the basis of humanitarian and compassionate grounds. Factors could include COVID-19, and Escario's contributions to Canadian society. 

Escario earlier told local media he thought it was unlikely to get a Pfizer vaccine if he went home to the Philippines. The Philippines just received its first Pfizer vaccine doses on Monday, May 10, but the country’s vaccine stockpile is still mostly comprised of China’s Sinovac and AstraZeneca. – Rappler.com

Michelle Abad

Michelle Abad is a researcher-writer at Rappler. Possessing the heart and soul of a feminist, she is working on specializing in women's issues in Newsbreak, Rappler's investigative arm.

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