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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Calderon couple to exit in April; daughter to stay


By NATSUKO FUKUE and MINORU MATSUTANI
Staff writers

A Filipino couple who lost their long fight against a deportation order have decided to leave their 13-year-old Japan-born daughter behind when they return to the Philippines in April, their lawyer said Friday.

Sarah Calderon and daughter Noriko conveyed the decision in a Friday meeting with immigration authorities, their lawyer, Shogo Watanabe, said.

Sarah and husband Arlan were granted a provisional release until April 13 to attend the April 8 opening ceremony at Noriko's junior high school, where their daughter is starting her second year, Watanabe said. The couple will be deported the day the release expires.

"I had hoped all three of us could stay in Japan," Noriko told reporters in Tokyo.

The Immigration Bureau will issue Noriko a special residency permit sometime this month, Watanabe said. Sarah's sister, who is married to a Japanese national and lives in Kita Ward, Tokyo, will move to Warabi, Saitama Prefecture, to care for her, he added.

"I hope we three can live together again in Japan someday," Arlan said, adding he and his wife plan to live with his mother in Manila while he looks for a job, which he doesn't expect will be easy to find. He worked in the construction industry in Japan.

According to Watanabe, the couple told the Immigration Bureau they wanted Justice Minister Eisuke Mori to promise that Noriko would receive government protection. However, their request was turned down, and they were told to demonstrate goodwill by first returning to their home country.

Watanabe expressed surprise at the speed with which the Justice Ministry dealt with the family's case. "The way (the ministry) reacted to this case is not normal," he said, adding the couple had no choice but to agree to leave Japan as the ministry threatened to deport Noriko as well if they refused.

The lawyer urged the government to report in detail on the procedures it undertook in the Calderons' case to the United Nations Human Rights Council, which has been asking for the information.

An Immigration Bureau official whose name was withheld said the ministry had done all it could for the family based on the letter of the law.

The family had hoped to persuade the government to allow all three to stay. But the government remained adamant that either all three had to leave Japan or that only the daughter could stay.

The couple entered Japan separately in the early 1990s using other people's passports. Noriko was born in Japan in 1995. Their illegal status was discovered in 2006 when Sarah was found out.

On Monday, immigration authorities detained Arlan at the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau and allowed Sarah and Noriko another week to make up their minds.

The justice minister and Immigration Bureau have repeatedly told the couple their daughter alone could get special permission to stay in Japan.

Arlan came to Japan in May 1993, a year after his wife.

Information from Kyodo added.



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