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by Paula Saraza and Nandika Ravi 

A Filipino healthcare worker who has been serving on the frontlines in the battle against COVID-19 has had his deportation to the Philippines delayed, after a social media campaign by members of the Filipinio-Canadian community. 

Carlo Escario has been caught in a battle with immigration authorities, who revoked his immigration status in 2013. Officials say Escario failed to declare that he was married and had a child in the Philippines. He was ordered to leave Canada on May 13th this year.

Carlo Escario| Photo Provided

Escario, who has been working as a hemodialysis assistant for seven years at Toronto General Hospital, has been caring for COVID-19 patients since the pandemic began. He received one dose of the COVID vaccine but requested his deportation be delayed to give him an opportunity to receive his second shot. 

“Immigration papers are anxiety inducing. (It’s a) long and complicated process, also (in) how we define relationships. To misrepresent a relationship and get deported after saving many lives in the middle of the pandemic, that’s just absurd,” said Monica De Vera, campaign organizer

The fight to keep Escario in Canada took over social media, with thousands of people tweeting their support and flooding the inboxes of local officials. Community members used the hashtag #KeepCarloinCanada to get the message out.

Social Campaign Flyer| Photo Provided

“I don’t think he should be deported, he does more good than harm. He has been working as a healthcare worker. But, to see him not being able to help others because he said that he’s single in his status is just unfair,” said Escario’s cousin, Andrea Lacson.

Escario was inside Pearson Airport when he received a call from a border officer. 

“I was shocked because less than an hour before I checked in, I received that call. I’m happy, I’m jumping with my family outside the terminal,” Escario told OMNI News’ Paula Saraza.

Carlo Escario at Toronto Pearson Airport minutes after he was told to stay back in Canada| Photo from Twitter

Many supporters believe the social media campaign is what pushed the government to delay his deportation. 

“Without that campaign he would’ve been sent back in the Philippines without his second vaccine shot. I’m so grateful to the community who alerted everyone with the situation,” said Jenny Kwan,  MP for Vancouver East and NDP critic for Immigration Refugee and Citizenship.

Escario is now allowed to stay in Canada until June 22, which will allow him to receive the second dose of the COVID vaccine before being sent back to the Philippines. 

“I admit that I made a mistake that I didn’t declare my wife and my child. But I will face the consequences whatever it is. If they want to remove me, I’ll do that because I really want to still come back here to Canada and live my life here,” said Escario.