11/13/2012 09:33 EST | Updated 01/13/2013 05:12 EST

Immigration battle forces 2 elderly friends out of Nova Scotia

Two elderly women — one Canadian, the other American — left for the United States on Wednesday with no place to go once they get there, after exhausting efforts to stay in Canada together.

Mildred Sanford, who grew up in Guysborough County in Nova Scotia, and her American friend of 30 years, Nancy Inferrera, said they refuse to be separated from one another.

"She's coming back with me because it wouldn't be fair if I left her here. She couldn't make it on her own," said Inferrera.

Sanford, 83, has heart problems and is in the early stages of dementia. Inferrera, 73, said she provides care for Sanford but her application for permanent residency has been refused, as has her appeal on humanitarian grounds.

The two met while working in Massachusetts and they moved in together after Sanford's husband died. In 2008, they moved to a trailer in Guysborough.

The two shared the trailer home where they lived on pension income of $1,700 per month.

"I have no place to stay, I don't know where I'm going to be staying tomorrow tonight at this time. I have no place," an emotional Inferrera told CBC News.

Friends sticking together

Lee Cohen, an immigration lawyer based in Halifax, said the deportation order should be revoked.

"It's a removal that shouldn't take place because Nancy, the foreign national, benefits a Canadian citizen by the name of Mildred," he said.

Even though it means leaving everything including health care behind, Sanford said she's sticking with her friend.

"We've been together, she has nobody and so we've been together so long. We've been friends."

Inferrera doesn't know what will happen next.

"The most important thing is, I wish there was somebody up here that just could say, 'Yes, you can stay up here and sign the papers,'" she said. "That would make me happy. It's coming to the holidays, and being on the street down there, that's all I can think of."

At this point, Cohen said, with the deportation ordered for Wednesday, only Public Safety Minister Vic Toews can intervene to help the two women.

He said only a ministerial order would let Inferrera re-enter Canada as a resident, and allow the pair to return to their home in Guysborough.