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Orozco denied bail, could be deported immediately

Orozco denied bail, could be deported immediately

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Community members mobilize support
Toronto queer artist and community member Alvaro Orozco was denied bail at a detention review on May 17 and may be deported as early as today, May 18.

Orozco, now 25, fled Nicaragua to the United States when he was 12 after, he says, his father beat him for being gay. He lived illegally in the US until 2005 and then came to Toronto. At his initial Canadian refugee hearing in October of 2006, Immigration and Refugee Board member Deborah Lamont told him via teleconference from Calgary that she didn’t believe that he is gay.

Orozco has been living in Toronto under a deportation order since October of 2007. He was arrested by Toronto police as he was waiting for a TTC bus at Ossington Station on the evening of May 13. He remains in custody at the Toronto Immigration Holding Centre in Rexdale.

About 30 people gathered at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre in Toronto on Wednesday, May 18 for an impromptu community meeting and art show in support of Orozco. It started with a press conference in which local artists and community members emphasized the extensive relationships Orozco has built within Toronto’s queer community in the years he has lived here.

NDP MP Olivia Chow joined the meeting via Skype, saying, “He should not be deported to Nicaragua.” She added, “If I see Jason Kenney face to face today—”

Suhail Abualsameed, a community advocate and friend of Orozco, emphasized that Canada prides itself on having a reputation as a safe harbour and place of opportunity.

“This is Canada’s moment to prove that we are who we say we are,” he said. Abualsameed said that Orozco is “obviously extremely anxious.” At the same time, he added, “he’s very resilient, and he’s gone through this before.”

Orozco’s photography lined the walls of the theatre, paying tribute to his involvement in Toronto’s art community. Jumblies Theatre artistic director Ruth Howard said Orozco’s artistic contributions to the community demonstrate his creative potential.

“If he could really be at home here and be accepted… he would become a force that would be known and valued,” she said.

Howard broke into tears as she spoke about her own relationship with Orozco. “He’s not much older than my own daughters,” she said, her voice cracking. “Everyone at Jumblies is behind him.”

After the press conference, activists and community members stayed for a planning meeting to discuss how they might best offer support to Orozco. Craig Fortier, of the group No One Is Illegal, is an organizer for the Let Alvaro Stay campaign.

“We’re being made to establish Alvaro’s involvement in this community,” Fortier said. “If that fails, then we start to get angry.”

Fortier says there will be a rally of support on Friday, May 20 at 5:30pm, at the corner of Church and Wellesley streets. In the meantime, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has the authority to intervene; he could release Orozco and grant him residency on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. Kenney’s office did not respond to Xtra’s call before post time, but readers may contact him themselves here. Readers are also urged to join the Let Alvaro Stay Facebook page here.

When asked why, exactly, Toronto police stopped Orozco, Fortier said police are not required to enforce immigration law.

“We’re as puzzled as anybody else,” he said.

Xtra is still investigating why and how police became involved.

UPDATE 18 May, 2011: When asked for comment about the case, Toronto police Constable Wendy Drummond said she found no information about the arrest of Alvaro Orozco, but that “if a person has come into contact [with police]...and there may be an immigration issue, the officer may contact immigration and see what to do.” Drummond added that she could not speak to the specific case, as she could not find any information about Orozco on her database.

Check back for more updates as they become available.

Comments

DEPORT HIM!
So lets get this story right. This guy lived in the USA illegally, then comes to Canada and lives here illegally. In fact he has been doing so for how many years? And we as a gay community of course because its somehow a gay issue, then rally for him to stay even though everything this guy has done is and was illegal? What a great position for the gay community to be involved in. There is a deportation order in place for a reason. When you come to this country you adbide by the rules and laws we have in place, and you pay the taxes like everyone eles. What he is doing is WRONG! this is NOT a GAY ISSUE!
But the Canadian Left loves Nicaragua!
It's ironic that the Canadian Left is opposed to Alvaro Orozco being deported to Nicaragua. The Canadian Left has been supporting current Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega since the 1980s. When Ortega lead the Sandinista National Liberation Front, he was the darling of the Canadian Left. Svend Robinson, the first openly gay NDP in Canada, even heckled US President Ronald Reagan for supporting the Contras against Ortega's left wing government when Reagan was giving a speech to the Canadian House of Commons.
re: I call BS
sanwin in the story you referenced it sounds like the man had an excellent case for refugee status in Canada. I'm not sure why he was denied but he was imprisoned in his home country for being gay and likely faces jail again upon his return. Canada's IRB does make mistakes, all the time, especially when it comes to LGBT refugee applicants. People are denied refugee status because they' re told they look capable of closeting themselves successfully, can you imagine someone applyng for refugee status here on the basis of their religion being told to pretend to be a different religion and then having their claim denied and them returned? Of course not, that sort of thing doesn't happen to religious refugees, just LGBT ones. LGBT refugees have also been denied refugee status in Canada for not looking gay enough, for not attending Pride parades while in Canada, for not recognizing a rainbow flag as an LGBT symbol in spite of the fact that in African and Asian countries the rainbow flag means nothing. There is even a former anti-gay activist determining refugee cases these days, do you really think LGBT refugee applicants would get a fair chance from him? Since the switch to having refugee cases judged by just one person anti-LGBT bias has definitely played a role in the rejection of LGBT refugees from Canada. I've read a couple of news reports from NGOs about failed refugees from Canada being killed once they returned to their home countries, it was some years ago and I couldn't find the article again, they weren't LGBT refugees but still it shows that our IRB can and does make mistakes and there isn't a proper appeal division yet set up like there was supposed to have been when they switched from a 3 person panel deciding cases to just 1 person. There are many problems in our system that work against saving the lives of legitimate refugees, just because the IRB says someone isn't a legitimate refugee doesn't necessarily make it so.
RE: re: death unlikely
Oops! brain freeze on my part, I have no idea why I googled the situation in Honduras instead of that in Nicaragua for LGBT people. You're right currently Nicaragua is much better for LGBT people than Honduras having recently made same-sex sex legal in 2008. However I still say Olvaro had very good reason to flee Nicaragua as a gay refugee when he did, gay sex was still illegal there at the time and his father had threatened to kill him, just because things have improved there since he fled doesn't mean he has/had any ulterior motive other than saving his life when he did apply for refugee status in Canada. I do hope his contributions to our society are recognized though and that he is permitted to stay on compassionate grounds, he seems like he would make an excellent Canadian citizen and as a gay man would have a much better and safer life here where he has full legal equality as a gay man than he would in Nicaragua. If he is sent back I can only hope there will be some charity there to meet him and give him a place to stay until he gets settled well away from his father, after all he left the country when he was only 12 and has spent half his life on the run, he would need help getting to know the place again.
I call BS
This story is just like this other fake one about the Malaysian gay man deported from Quebec in 2008. Here is the story from 2008. http://www.xtra.ca/public/viewstory.aspx?STORY_ID=4444&PUB_TEMPLATE_ID=2 And here is Mr. Kulen, alive and well on his facebook page in 2011. http://www.facebook.com/kulen.lingam?sk=wall Enough of scamming the Canadian Immigration system.
Enough Already
Send him packing. They're enough people who want to get into Canada the legal way. Groups like NOII should be banned for working against the interests of Canada.
RE: re: death unlikely
Thank you for the links on the queer experiences of those in Honduras. But isn’t Alvaro being deported to Nicaragua? Are you suggesting that Honduras and Nicaragua are identical or similar? While I agree with you that queer visitors are treated differently when visiting Nicaragua; I do have openly queer friends who live in Nicaragua. After reading and posting my comment last night, I skyped one of my Nicaraguan queer friends and discussed the issue. He mentioned that there is an existence of homophobia and discrimination; perhaps more so given the religious environment of the country. But he does not live his life in fear; nor does he allow other homophobic views to control or limit his life. He mentioned that he has never been approached by an officer or threatened with jail for attending a gay bar; or fear having sex with another man. He did, however, mention that he heard of incidents where queer people are targeted, but he does not know of anyone personally who has been accosted. I mentioned that queer individuals in Canada are also targeted and humiliated by our own police officers. We both agreed that there may be higher rate of these incidents in Nicaragua; but my friend feels death is unlikely. We wrapped up our discussion talking about the positive impacts of Alvaro’s return should he wished to make any positive impacts. My friend mentioned that Alvaro has gotten quite a bit of media attention; but he feels that Alvaro would be fine if he gives the LGBT community (say in Managua) a chance to help and support him. He believes that if a person such as Alvaro returned and demonstrated his pride in his sexuality; he would martial support from both the queer community and queer friendly communities. Nicaragua needs pioneers such as that to help progress LGBT issues in a socially developing country such as Nicaragua. Improving the quality of life of all LGBT people has got to start somewhere; if everyone ran, nothing would progress. I would agree with Jeff; that
Ed's note
Hi Mike, there is no indication either from police or any other source that Alvaro was arrested or detained in connection with a criminal investigation. He was picked up and is being held solely on the basis of the deportation order outstanding against him. There are still some unanswered questions about how police became involved and more specifically why Alvaro was picked when he was, and we're working on getting them answered. We'll have more on this story later today.
Still, Why?
How long does it take for the newspaper to find out why he was arrested? What was he doing? That would be nice information to know before anybod decides to blindly support this man.
The purpose of Friday's rally
The article states that there will be a rally in support of Orozco on Friday, May 20 at 5:30pm, at the corner of Church and Wellesley streets. Will the rally be marching to federal government immigration offices in Toronto to protest Orozco's deportation? Or, is it just an opportunity for people to "get angry" at the corner of Church and Wellesley and then go home.

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