From left, Ermie Zotomayor, Antonio Laroya and Arnisito Gaviola. An exclusion order was issued on Monday.  (Photo courtesy of the Winnipeg Free Press)


WINNIPEG, Manitoba — Three Filipino men arrested and facing deportation for failing to have proper work permits are one step closer to being kicked out of Canada.

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) won exclusion orders against Ermie Zotomayor, Antonio Laroya and Arnisito Gaviola after an immigration court hearing on Tuesday.

The exclusion orders mean the men will be removed from the country and can’t return for one year and must have special permission from the federal government to do so.

But their Winnipeg lawyer David Matas said the men — affectionately dubbed “The Tres Amigos” by their supporters — have applied for temporary resident permits which are still pending.

Matas said he will ask the government for permission to delay the deportations until a decision is rendered on those permits.

The men could appeal the exclusion orders to the federal courts, but that wouldn’t delay their deportation, Matas said, adding he couldn’t say when the CBSA would move to remove the men from Canada.

The trio had been in limbo since they were arrested at a Thompson gas station, where they were working last year.

The three first came to Canada in 2007 to take jobs in Alberta.

The men violated the terms of their work permit by taking the jobs in Thompson.

The Court heard on Tuesday that criminal investigators with the CBSA last spring were conducting surveillance — not of the family men making $10 an hour but their employer for hiring foreign nationals without the proper paperwork and permits and misrepresenting information.

The trio didn’t know their boss was under investigation or that he was later charged in September, Matas said.

That case is still before the courts and the employer has not yet entered a plea.

Work permit

The workers believed their new boss in Thompson had applied for the proper paperwork and was just waiting for a labor-market opinion and work permit as their previous two employers had.

“Employers want people right away,” their lawyer told the court.

“There was no attempt to violate the law. They started work with their employer and were waiting for it.”