A US soldier, who fled to Canada to escape further service in the Iraq War, has been arrested at the US border. The mother of four children may now face between two to five years behind bars.
Kimberly Rivera, an Army private, has lost a deportation case in Canada, where she spent five years with her family, and was ordered to leave the country until September 20, AP reports.
The 30-year-old served in Iraq in 2006 but then became disillusioned with the mission. After being ordered to serve another tour in 2007 she decided to cross into Canada where she applied for refugee status.
The War Resisters Support Campaign (WRSC) – a Canadian non-profit organization that assists US military personnel who refused to participate in the Iraq war – launched a campaign in support for Rivera with some 19,000 people signing an online petition protesting her deportation order. Rallies were held in several Canadian cities on Wednesday, with supporters calling on the Canadian government to let Rivera stay in the country.
However Canadian immigration authorities said they don’t believe Rivera will be subjected to persecution and ordered her to leave.
“Military deserters from the United States are not genuine refugees under the internationally accepted meaning of the term. These unfounded claims clog up our system for genuine refugees who are actually fleeing persecution,” Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney's spokeswoman, Alexis Pavlich, said on Thursday.
On Thursday, Rivera handed herself in to authorities at the US border, she was then arrested and transferred to military custody, the WRSC said in a statement as quoted by AP.
Rivera's lawyer, Alyssa Manning, has said the war resister could now face a jail sentence of between two to five years.
Rivera told reporters last month that her biggest fear about being deported was being separated from her four children, aged 10, eight, three and 18 months.
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu has called on Canada to welcome Iraq War resister Kimberly Rivera.
“Despite all of the ghastliness in the world, human beings are made for goodness. The ones who are held in high regard are not militarily powerful, nor even economically prosperous. They have a commitment to try to make the world a better place. I truly believe that Kimberly Rivera is such a person, and that Canada can only benefit from allowing her to stay,” he wrote in the Globe & Mail newspaper.