No reprieve for expelled Filipino family

by Natsuko Fukue

The Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau told an undocumented Filipino couple in Warabi, Saitama Prefecture, on Friday that they will be detained unless they decide by March 9 whether to leave Japan with or without their 13-year-old Japan-born daughter.

The bureau also told them their provisional release, which has been extended four times since November, will no longer be extended.

“I’m disappointed,” said Arlan Calderon, 36, the girl’s father. “I still don’t know how to tell her.”

Justice Minister Eisuke Mori decided to allow their daughter, Noriko, 13, who was raised in Japan and speaks only Japanese, to stay on humanitarian grounds.

But this would mean splitting up the family and leaving the girl to fend for herself.

The family has been asking the government since 2006 to let the three of them stay in Japan together, but the Supreme Court turned down their plea last September.

Since they were provisionally freed from detention in October to prepare for departure, the immigration bureau has extended their stay four times.

But this time, the family has only 10 days left.

“It’s wrong that (the Immigration Bureau) gave them such a short period to make the decision,” said human rights lawyer Shogo Watanabe, who is handling the Calderon case.

He said the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has sent the government an inquiry about the Calderon case.

“If they think their decision is right, they should wait until the international organization makes a judgment on it,” he said.

Supporters of the Calderons gave the Justice Ministry and the Immigration Bureau a petition with 19,733 signatures requesting that the Calderons be allowed to stay.

Arlan entered Japan on another person’s passport in 1993. His wife, Sarah, 38, did likewise in 1992. She was arrested in July 2006 and convicted of violating the Immigration Law that September, when their daughter was an elementary school fifth-grader.

Watanabe said the Immigration Bureau tends to grant special permission to undocumented families whose children are in junior high school because it is considered inhumane to deport a child who can only speak Japanese and who has spent more than six years in the nation’s education system.

Other immigration law experts said the fact the parents entered Japan on false passports may have affected Mori’s decision to deport them.

According to the Immigration Bureau, there were 113,072 illegal foreign residents in Japan as of January, after 39,382 were deported in 2008. Some 7,388 foreigners received special permission to stay in 2007.