A one-way ticket out of only nation he knows

Relates to:
Date: 2003-07-16

<Excerpts>
Margaret Philp,
social policy reporter, Toronto Globe and Mail:

"Mario Perez was less cunning thief than punkish teenager looking to
hock stolen goods for cash to buy clothes, alchohol and mariujuana -
and clumsy enought to leave clues behind. He did not know police were
on his trail until they ambushed him in a Brantford, Ont. park after
his string of break-ins. Even less did he suspect that the five months
he would serve in jail on four counts of breaking and entering would
be the least of his worries. A few days before he was sprung, he was
handed a deportation order that would be his one way ticket out of the
only country he knows.

The Immigration Department wants to sent the lanky 19 year old, who
speaks barely a word of Spanish, back to to Mexico, a country where he
knows no one. Branded a serious criminal in Canada, his would appear
to be an open-and-shut case for deportation.

But his story is not so simple , and Canada's move to push him out of
the door is a blow from the country that ushered him in, only to allow
him to be dumped into the child welfare system where he was raised as
a Canadian.

At the age of two Mario was placed in a hard-scrabble Mexican
orphanage with his infant sister by a dirt-poor young mother who has
since died.

A few years later the children were brought to Canada by a would-be
adoptive mother who made little secret of wanting only a girl. Mario
was abandoned to the children's aid society less than two years later.
Raised as a government ward in foster care, he was never granted legal
immigrant status. no one applied on his behalf for permanent residency
or citzenship, and it did not matter while he was a crown ward in Ontario.

But when he became an adult last year and months later was convicted
of the break-ins, his deportation was automatic.

Lawers hired by the Catholic Children's Aid Society in Toronto, where
he was surrendered more than a decade ago, have filed a last-ditch
appeal for him to remain in Canada on compssionate grounds.'

<excerpts>

'Three years after he was abandoned in the orphanage, a Canadian woman
flew to Guadalajara to adopt a beautiful dark-haired four-year-old
girl named Gabriela, only to be told that she could not leave without
the child's five-year-old brother.

She returned to Toronto with both children but she turned Mario over
to the CAS, saying she could no longer manage the impulsive,
aggressive, disturbed eight -year-old boy.

"He was very energetic. He was really quite adorable' , remembers
Louise taylor, a Catholic CAS social worker who has been his
caseworker for most of the past decade. "He had to show me how fast he
could run. That, and getting an ice-cream were his priorities."

The woman Mario considered his mother never returned to visit him
while he was in foster care. She refused to hand over a photograph of
his sister, and ruled out visits to her. After mario cried for his
favourite stuffed pink bunny, she told social workers it was no longer
in her possssion.

Since the day he entered foster care, Mario has yearned to see the
sister who is his only family.

After a child psychologist suggested he should be in contact with his
sister, Mario won the right to see her in a precedent-setting court
battle that allowed access to biological siblings after an adoption.
But the victory was snatched away when the adoptive mother slipped out
of the country with his sister.'

<excerpts>

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