Canadian Government Orders Deportation of U.S. Soldier who Refused to Return to Iraq

Saturday, September 01, 2012
Kimberly Rivera

Army Private Kimberly Rivera, who went AWOL five years ago after being ordered back to Iraq, faces deportation from Canada.


Rivera fled to Canada with her husband and children in 2007 to avoid returning to the war. She applied for refugee status, the first female to do so, but was denied by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada.


Rivera, who grew up in Mesquite, Texas, first enlisted in the Army Reserves in July 2001, but was discharged after it turned out she was pregnant. Struggling financially, she reenlisted in 2006 and was sent to Iraq in October of that year. For three months she served as a gate guard at a forward operating base.


Soon she began to question the purpose of U.S. involvement in Iraq. “Why am I here? What am I giving my life for? How am I helping my comrades and Iraq's people? What harm do I see here that would affect the safety of my family back home? Is what I am doing self-defense or aggression?”


Home on leave, she and her husband decided to drive from Texas to Canada, crossing the border on February 18, 2007.


If she returns to the U.S., Rivera will face court-martial and possible time in jail. The Canadian government has given her until September 20 to leave the country. Rivera’s lawyer says her client may appeal to a Canadian federal court.


During the Vietnam War, an estimated 40,000-50,000 draft-age Americans fled to Canada, where they were given safe haven. However the government of Stephen Harper, who has been prime minister of Canada for the last 6 ½ years, has been more hostile to U.S. war resisters.

-David Wallechinsky, Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

US Soldier May Appeal Canadian Deportation Order (by Charmaine Noronha, Associated Press)

Iraq War Resister Kimberly Rivera Ordered Deported To U.S. (by Patty Winsa, Toronto Star)

Kimberly Rivera Chooses Canada over Unjust War (Courage to Resist)


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