Woman deported for tie to gang she never joined

A Toronto woman has been deported to Chile for associating with a gang, even though she has lived virtually all of her life in Canada and has no criminal record.

Carla Campagna, 23, was placed on a flight to Santiago late Tuesday night, hours after losing a deportation appeal in Toronto.  She was originally ordered deported last spring because of her association with a little-known Hispanic group grandly called the Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation.

The Latin Kings and Queens are considered public benefactors in some nations and an organized crime group in others.  Her lawyer, Jeffry House, spoke with her shortly before she stepped on a flight for Santiago on Tuesday night.  “I asked her how she was feeling,” House said. “She said, ‘Just what you’d expect. My heart is broken.’ ”

House said she also told him that Toronto is the only home she has ever known, and that she doesn’t understand why she has been deported.  Earlier Tuesday, Justice Russel Zinn ruled in Federal Court that she failed to show irreparable harm would be caused through her deportation.  Over the past year, Campagna kept house for her mother, who has been having radiation treatments for uterine cancer. She also voluntarily scrubbed floors at a west Toronto church.

Campagna has no stable family or friends in Chile to help her restart her life, House said.  Campagna never took out Canadian citizenship after arriving in Canada with her parents as a newborn.  Court heard she was never a member of the Latin Queens, and immediately broke off all association with the group after a top member ordered her to give him oral sex.

Campagna told her Immigration and Refugee Board hearing in April that she briefly associated with the group because they talked about respect, not crime.  “There was an oath,” Campagna told the hearing. “… Basically, it talks about treating your body like a temple… That your respect yourself as a queen, your head up high.”

The board ruled that it didn’t matter that she never actually joined the Latin Queens.  Its decision stated that membership in criminal and terrorist organizations has been interpreted broadly by the courts, “so much so that it ensnares even those who did not partake, nor intend to partake, in criminal or terrorist behaviour.”

House was upset on Tuesday that Campagna was being deported, before her appeal could be make to Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.  House noted that the minister could allow a member of a criminal group to remain in Canada, if he determines he or she isn’t a danger to Canada.

House said that he was told that the application to the minister “will go into the processing queue and will be dealt with accordingly. Furthermore, the application will be processed whether or not Ms. Campana is in Canada…”

A dozen people associated with the group have been deported since a police sweep last year.

The Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation have been linked in the U.S. to drug running and murder. However, its members are government-funded community workers in Spain. In Ecuador, where the group was founded in the 1960s, members work alongside police officers.

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