MONTREAL – An Iranian woman who’d been threatened with expulsion from Canada next week and feared for her safety has received a two-year residency permit.
The federal government granted the reprieve to Roghayeh Azizi Mirmahaleh on Thursday, five days before her scheduled deportation to Iran.
Her lawyer, Stephanie Valois, confirmed the news in an email and said they will now try to find a way to have her stay permanently.
Mirmahaleh, 60, had been held at a detention centre in Quebec after her arrest on Tuesday by the Canada Border Services Agency.
Authorities detained the Montrealer because they feared she was a flight risk ahead of her scheduled departure from Canada, where she has lived since 2012.
Mirmahaleh appeared in good spirits Thursday as she boarded a taxi outside immigration offices with her daughter, Sahar Brahimi, who said her mother was happy to be freed.
Her case was taken up by numerous politicians, including Quebec solidaire member Amir Khadir, who sat next to Mirmahaleh at a news conference Monday.
He greeted the federal measure positively and said Canada must commit to stop deporting people to countries that violate human rights.
Quebec Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil told reporters in Quebec City she also welcomed the news of the ministerial permit.
She, along with Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre and federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau, had voiced their support in recent days for a reprieve.
“It’s an accumulation of the interventions, but certainly we had a lot of exchanges with the minister’s office, they were aware that we had these concerns,” Weil said.
Mirmahaleh was denied refugee status because of her ties to an Iranian group, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, once deemed by Canada to be a terrorist organization.
The organization has no longer appeared on Canada’s blacklist since 2012 and her supporters feared she risked being tortured if returned to her native country.
Valois said earlier this week her client was “really scared” to return to Iran because she feared for her life after being involved with the exiled opposition group that was critical of the Iranian regime.
She was imprisoned in Iran during the 1980s for her political activism and her husband was executed behind bars in 1988.
Mirmahaleh’s release came on the same day the Federal Court was to hear a request for an emergency stay.