TORONTO: Entire Cuban family gets sponsored, CIC expected to take measures
BY MICHELE MANDEL ,TORONTO SUN
TORONTO — Deborah Parsons thought she had secured love and a happy future when she sponsored her new Cuban husband to Canada nine years ago.
Instead, she brought home violence, debt and a now-convicted domestic abuser intent on bringing the rest of his family to his new country. And despite her repeated warnings to the immigration department about her husband’s past since coming to Canada, they won’t tell her what they are doing to ensure members of his family are not allowed to come here as well.
“Now that the veil of control and abuse has lifted, my hindsight has become quite clear,” Parsons, 45, wrote in a letter to Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander. “I was only used for sponsorship, then required to be the bread winner, a maid, a chef, a laundress, a secretary, an employment agency and a charity organization.”
She urged the minister to stop her husband from sponsoring his family and to provide her with information on the case to “ease the pain of the shame I carry daily for bringing someone like this to Canada.”
In an e-mail that arrived Thursday, Parsons was assured CIC is well aware of her concerns regarding her husband. “All information received will be carefully assessed and considered and the appropriate action taken.”
But it also said the Privacy Act prevents them from sharing any information about the “initiation or outcome of any investigation.”
Parsons was aghast. “Why, if I am still married to this (man) and am the Canadian who sponsored him, do I have no right to know what’s going on?” she demands. “Why does a whole Cuban family get sponsored to Canada on the back of (an alleged) fraud?”
In February 2003, a vacationing Parsons met lifeguard Raul Oscar Alvarez-Hervas at a Cuban resort when he rescued her sister following a paragliding accident. After a whirlwind telephone and e-mail romance, she returned to marry him three months later. “I was a stupid girl who thinks, ‘Isn’t this amazing, the poetry, the dripping flower e-mails. Isn’t he so romantic?’”
It took two years and thousands of dollars spent on paperwork, long distance phone bills, 10 return flights and gifts for him and his family before she managed to sponsor him here. But, just five months after his arrival, Alvarez-Hervas disappeared and Parsons wouldn’t see him again for 18 months.
Lucky for him, he came to Canada before a 2012 change was made to the immigration act to combat marriage fraud. Now an immigrant spouse must live with their Canadian sponsor for at least two years or their permanent resident status will be revoked.
Alvarez-Hervas, who did not respond to numerous telephone messages asking for comment, was in the clear.
Her husband returned to Toronto in 2008 and convinced her he was now ready to settle down. Foolishly, she took him back. But it was a tumultuous reunion and on June 24 of that year, she says Alvarez-Hervas beat her. Toronto Police charged him with theft under $5,000, two counts of threatening death and assault with a weapon.