Survivor of attempted murder speaks up after years of silence due to deportation fears

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A Canadian immigrant who was nearly killed is now speaking out after several years of silence due to immigration issues.

In 2013, Natalia Jiménez was a victim of repeated domestic abuse after her then-boyfriend seized her immigration documents and threatened her with deportation if she ever involved the authorities. Jiménez sustained injuries to her arms and legs after she was slapped, pushed and beaten by her boyfriend in the streets of London, Ontario.

Despite being rescued by neighbours after calling for help, she was warned not to contact the police as it’ll lead to her boyfriend’s deportation.

Jiménez first arrived in Canada in July 2013 and two months later, her boyfriend, Mayk Oliveros-Callejas joined her—they both came in as refugees. She then found work as a social worker but after receiving numerous threats, Jiménez moved out of her home and still told nobody about her physical abuse.

Today, she is much vocal about her experience. Jiménez is one of two individuals who were honoured by the London Abused Women’s Centre (LAWC) at the 2019 Shine the Lightcampaign. The LAWC has been recognizing two women every year since its inception in 2010—one woman who survived a murder attempt and another woman who was murdered. This year, a 25-year unresolved murder of Sonya Cywink was recognized as she was the second honouree.

Now, Jiménez has permanent residency in Canada but was still a refugee at the time her boyfriend, Oliveros-Callejas assaulted her in the street. Additionally, she had her claim rejected even while receiving medical attentionfor the injuries sustained in the attempted murder.

However, Jiménez’s experience reveals the struggles most people from a specific part of the general population face when battling domestic violence.  There is always an accompanying humiliation, stigmatization, fear, communication barrier and those who advise you to remain silent to avoid deportation—just like in the case of Jiménez.

According to a research by Western University, immigrant populations face the same challenges and frequency of violence targeted at women like other communities. But female immigrants are a lot more helpless and face more challenges while trying to obtain support services.

Almost six years after she was nearly murdered by her boyfriend, Jiménez is opening up to the world about her story in spite of the pain. According to her, the need to speak out is important as other women are facing similar cases of domestic violence and need to be supported before they end up as casualties.

Jiménez had known Oliveros-Callejas for so long and they dated for almost a year when she landed in London.  Oliveros-Callejas was a very possessive man and tried to control her choice of clothes, whom she spent time and whom she conversed with, said Jiménez.In spite of this, she still loved him as he was quite endearing towards her in different ways.

Jiménez was hospitalized after an assault by Oliveros-Callejas in October 2013 and after confiding in her a friend—who was also Colombian—she was encouraged to report to the police. Oliveros-Callejas was arrested but spent little time in jail after getting a restraint order.  He was rearrested after flouting the order and was released during the Christmas holiday. Jiménez noted that she had regrets going to the police as the questions asked made her feel responsible for the abuse.

Oliveros-Callejas was eventually sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for attempted murder after breaking into Jiménez’s home on January 2, 2014—repeatedly choking and stabbing her in the chest.

While recuperating in the hospital, Jiménezmet executive director, Megan Walker and other members of LAWC. The support group got her an attorney and paid for all the legal fees.

Today, Jiménez is highly appreciative of LAWC as she was given a Canadian permanent residency card on compassionate and humanitarian grounds. She would now be looking forward to their support for a Canadian PR card renewal on humanitarian grounds once her current card expires.

This year, the Canadian government changed the process of obtaining permanent residency in the country in an attempt tospeed up the application of individuals like Jiménez who suffer domestic abuse. 

It is evident that issues surrounding Canadian immigrants and immigration into the country, in general, is one that is quite notable in the current minority government—which relies on the support of the NDP.Most political parties in Canada are supporting the idea of slowly reducing control over a portion of selected immigrants to certain provinces. With cases like that of Jiménez quite frequent in the immigrant population, there is the need to grant a clear pathway for low-skilled international workers to obtain permanent residency.

During the 2015 elections, The Liberal Party of Canada was one of the five major political parties in Canada that reassured its commitment of providing a more accommodating immigration platform. Today, most political parties in Canada are beginning to prioritize the need for better immigration laws and a clearer pathway for low-skilled workers to obtain permanent residency. Furthermore, the Conservatives have equally pledged to lower the processing times for credible organizations to recruit temporary international workers and introduce a plan for foreign students to get gainfully employed while studying—all this in addition to more leniency for obtaining permanent residency on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

Nonetheless, the People’s Party of Canada (PPC) is the only party that has not entirely supported the idea. Rather, they are proposing a more controlled growth in immigration levels.The PPC plans todrastically reduce the level of immigration in the country to about 150,000 (half the current number) and admit lesser resettled refugees. The parent and grand-parent reunification program would equally be scrapped and there would be a cap on the number of foreign nationals that can work in the country—subjecting candidates to rigorous immigration tests focused on Canadian values.