'The kids can't function without their mother'
Andy Ivens
The Province

October 3, 2004

Province Front Cover

Two days from now, Bernard Confiss will lose his wife. His kids will lose their mother. And he doesn't know what to do.

Or, more precisely, what else to do -- since Confiss has already spent months providing documents and rallying support to fight the deportation that will send his wife, Seydi Calvo Hidalgo, back to her native Costa Rica.

Ottawa says she has run out of extensions on the visitor's visa that brought her to Canada after their marriage in Costa Rica in 2002. Hidalgo has been arrested and is being held until her deportation, slated for either tomorrow or Tuesday.

The couple met in Vancouver six years ago. He was recently divorced, she was in Canada and attempting to stay.

The pair have a four-year-old daughter, Rachel, and a two-year-old son, Isaiah, both Canadians.

"This is devastating," Confiss said yesterday. "She has never been away from our children since they were born.

"They want to know where [she] is. I can't function without my wife. The kids can't function without their mother."

The couple were on their way to a movie Friday when police intercepted them as they strolled in southeast Vancouver.

Confiss, who runs his own landscaping business, says his bank accounts are empty. Hiring a lawyer to seek a stay of the order would be expensive, and Confiss says he has been told it's highly unlikely they would succeed.

Confiss says he's built his business to the point where he now earns about $5,000 a month -- but the profits go to pay off bills he ran up launching the firm.

Which, he says, leaves him with no option other than to sell all of his belongings as fast as he can, move with his children to Costa Rica if the order isn't overturned -- and try again from there.

"My kids are Canadian. I was born here," fumes the 37-year-old. "They let in all kinds of terrorists and Nazis. Why would they do this?"

Immigration spokesmen and lawyers involved in the case could not be reached for comment.

Confiss is now searching for another landscaper to assume the contracts he has committed to for the next six weeks. If he doesn't find one, he says he may simply walk away from his company.

Confiss lays his problems at the feet of a Canadian immigration official who he says told him two years ago, when the pair married, that he should use humanitarian and compassionate grounds rather than follow the traditional sponsorship route to keep his wife in Canada.

For the next 14 months, Confiss says the couple dealt with Costa Rican bureaucrats to get birth certificates, their marriage certificate, criminal background checks and other documents in order.

Hidalgo continued to have her visa extended as needed.

In May, Confiss says he was suddenly told instead that he was in "default" and had to sponsor his wife to have her stay.

The "default" came from the fact his first wife, whom he had sponsored from Costa Rica years before he met Hidalgo, had collected welfare in Canada after their divorce, and he needed to clear her $19,000 debt before sponsoring Hidalgo.

He doesn't have $19,000, he says.

The pair appealed. Friends, social workers and four rabbis wrote him letters of support, but the deportation order was issued.


 The Vancouver Province 2004