Honduras-born Dany Villanueva can stay in Canada after all but immigration officials warned he must keep on the straight and narrow to avoid deportation.
The brother of Fredy Villanueva, who died after he was shot by police in a Montreal North park in 2008, had been ordered deported in 2010 for a 2006 armed robbery conviction.
But Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) gave him a reprieve last September by accepting his request for a pre-removal risk assessment, which suspended his deportation. Last month, the department concluded Villanueva’s life could be in danger if he were returned to Honduras.
“Despite the risk he poses (in Canada), I believe the danger he faces in Honduras is much greater,” a Jan. 26 decision by CIC reads. “Mr. Villanueva could face a threat to his life or cruel and unusual punishment if he is returned to Honduras.”
Stéphane Handfield, Villanueva’s lawyer, says there’s a serious risk of torture by the military or criminal groups in the Central American country. The fact that his case is such a high profile one, that he once had alleged ties to a street gang and that he is covered in tattoos make him especially vulnerable to Honduras’ notorious gangs, Handfield argued during CIC hearings.
Though Handfield and the Villanueva family welcome the government’s decision, his residence in Canada is far from unconditional. Though his parents have refugee status in Canada, Villanueva is not a permanent resident.
“The (Immigration) Minister can, at any moment, review this decision,” said Handfield. “So if Dany Villanueva re-offends, if he were to commit a criminal infraction and be found guilty, the minister would decide, at that moment, to end that decision and the order to send him back would take effect.”
If the violence in Honduras were to subside, that might also cause the CIC to rescind its decision but Handfield believes that’s an unlikely scenario.
“I don’t see that happening in the coming days,” he said. “But if the situation in Honduras were to somehow change 180 degrees, (Villanueva) could be deported.”