NEWS

Lucia Vega Jimenez found hanging in CBSA shower stall kicked out of Canada once before: Inquest

09/29/2014 06:17 EDT | Updated 11/29/2014 05:59 EST
An inquest in Burnaby, B.C., has heard that a Mexican woman who hanged herself while awaiting deportation had been kicked out of Canada once before.

Lucia Vega Jimenez died in hospital days after she was found hanging in a Canada Border Services Agency holding cell at Vancouver's airport in December last year.

Border agent Josie Perri told the coroner's jury that she knew before arresting Jimenez that the 42-year-old hotel worker had been denied a refugee claim and had been ejected from Canada three years before.

The inquest also heard from the transit officer who called CBSA to check the woman's identification after she provided two different names that didn't turn up in police databases.

Both witnesses said the woman told them she was afraid of going back to Mexico because of problems with a boyfriend, and that she appeared visibly upset when arrested.

Suicide raises safety concerns

In January, Mexican Consul General Claudia Franco Hijuelos demanded answers about Vega Jimenez's apparent suicide. At the time, Franco Hijuelos said Vega Jimenez was afraid of going back to Mexico because of a "domestic situation."

There is also concern over how Jimenez was arrested.

At a candlelight vigil in February, Father Eduardo Quintero said Jimenez was stopped by transit police and delivered to the CBSA from a holding facility in Coquitlam.

Byron Cruz with Sanctuary Health, a group that advocates for Refugee and Migrant Health, claims TransLink regularly hands illegal migrants over to CBSA.

TransLink spokeswoman Anne Drennan told CBC News she is looking into the allegations, but "referrals to CBSA don't occur every day" and it's CBSA not transit police who make the arrests.

Cruz says his group also wants answers about why Jimenez was able to commit suicide under supervision.

"Our main concern is that they didn't provide exact information about what happened to Lucia," said Cruz. "As you know they said Lucia committed suicide and we want to know what the situation was about." 

"Why it took so long go go and check what was happening with her, who went to check on her because she was in the hands of private security. "I don't want this to happen again." "It's very sad. And this time it happen with Lucia, it can happen with any with any migrant and we don't want that."

The jury must make recommendations to prevent similar deaths but it can't lay any blame.

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