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Mexican refugee claimant, 18, loses bid to stay in Canada Add to ...

An 18-year-old refugee claimant is set to be deported Saturday to Mexico, where supporters fear he faces homophobic violence, after an 11th-hour attempt to keep him in Canada failed Friday.

Daniel Garcia, a Grade 11 student in Toronto, came to Canada three years ago with his older sister, who is gay. Her partner was murdered one night in Mexico while Mr. Garcia was in the room, the young man's supporters say.

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He has been attacked in Mexico because of his sister's sexuality and is afraid of what might await him in his home country, said Mr. Garcia's English language teacher who visited him Thursday in the detention centre.

"He has heard from others, from his family there, that people have said that they're going to finish the job, that they're going to come out and kill him and his sister," Hillel Heinstein said Friday at a rally for Mr. Garcia.

"We are not simply here because we like Daniel, because we think he's a good person, because he's an integral part of our community. We are here because of that, but we also fear for his safety."

Brenda Garcia was deported Monday, but her brother has not been in touch with her since then.

Daniel Garcia, described by teachers and fellow students at the rally as kind and hard-working, was detained Dec. 23 and is scheduled to be deported Saturday.

Supporters had hoped Mr. Garcia could at least stay in the country until the summer so he could finish his Grade 11 studies here uninterrupted.

Lawyer Guidy Mamann sought a temporary stay of the deportation order, but that was denied during a teleconference hearing with a judge Friday afternoon.

"She felt that there would be no irreparable harm in Daniel returning to Mexico," Mr. Mamann said.

"She felt that the loss of the school year was part of the sort of consequences that flow from deportation and nothing that constitutes irreparable harm."

Federal Court Justice Daniele Tremblay-Lamer noted in her decision that Mr. Garcia's behaviour showed "complete disregard for Canada's immigration laws."

Mr. Garcia failed to appear for removal in April 2010 and also didn't obey the conditions of his release when he moved and didn't report a change of address in October, Judge Tremblay-Lamer wrote.

Mr. Garcia also failed to appear in November 2010, leading to a warrant for his arrest.

"The court is not inclined to exercise its discretion favourably in order to grant this equitable remedy for someone who does not come with clean hands," Judge Tremblay-Lamer said in her decision.

Mr. Mamann said because Mr. Garcia's previous legal advocate died, the teen had to complete a lot of paperwork on his own, and put forward an "insufficient evidentiary basis" to support a lot of his claims, because he didn't know how to navigate the documents on his own.

There is still a request for a stay pending with Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, but since a similar request was already turned down by Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, Mr. Mamann does not think anything will come of it.

"I'm expecting him not to deal with it," he said.

Mr. Kenney's director of communications said in a statement that he couldn't comment on the specifics of Mr. Garcia's case, but that in the last few years thousands of "bogus asylum seekers from Mexico have tried to stay in Canada illegally."

"I can say that, like all failed asylum seekers facing deportation, [Mr. Garcia]has benefited from all of the rights and privileges available to asylum seekers," Alykhan Velshi wrote in an email.

"Nobody is deported until after they have exhausted their appeals; however once that has happened, we expect them to leave our country and respect Canadian law."

As of Friday evening, Mr. Mamann still didn't know when Mr. Garcia would be deported on Saturday and he did not have any flight information.

Speaking by telephone from the detention centre, Mr. Garcia told the crowd of about 100 people at the rally Friday morning that he appreciated everything they were doing.

"I just want to say thank you for everybody, to my teachers, to my friends and all those people who are working so I can get out from here," he said.

"[I'm]never going to forget all this that you are doing for me."

Cheri DiNovo, the New Democrat MPP representing the area of Mr. Garcia's school, said deporting Mr. Garcia goes against Canadian values.

"We ask Jason Kenney, we ask every immigration official to search their own hearts and their souls and to really say, 'Is this the Canada we want to live in - a Canada that sends a (teenager) to a probable death because of homophobia?"' she said at the rally.

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