American war resister Kimberly Rivera says she’s nervous, but hasn’t given up hope she’ll be allowed to remain in Canada.

The 27-year-old mother of three, who now lives in Toronto, made what might have been her final appearance yesterday in court.

Rivera, from Texas, deserted the U.S. army in 2007 because of her opposition to the war in Iraq.
She had been facing deportation and a likely court martial until a judge granted her an 11th-hour reprieve in March.

Now, the court is probing whether a Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration report from December 2007 adequately measured the potential risks Rivera could face if she were returned to the U.S.

“I’m more optimistic (than pessimistic),” said Rivera, flanked by dozens of anti-war supporters, as she cradled her seven-month-old daughter Katie in her arms outside the downtown Toronto courthouse, left.
Lawyers for Rivera and the government delivered their final arguments on the merits of the report yesterday in front of Judge James Russell.

Rivera’s lawyer Alyssa Manning argued her client would more likely face a court martial and jail time — instead of a simple administrative discharge — because of her political opposition to the war. The report, Manning said, failed to account for this risk of “differential prosecution.”

But that wasn’t the only flaw, Manning said. The report also contained sections that were copied “word for word” from assessments carried out on two other war deserters four months earlier, she said.

“It’s almost that the conclusion was reached before the evidence was even looked at,” Manning said outside court.

Manning told court that 94 per cent of all army deserters are given administrative discharges, but not those who air their beliefs in public.