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Orozco detention hearing scheduled for May 17

Orozco detention hearing scheduled for May 17

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Organizers call on Immigration Minister Jason Kenney to intervene
UPDATE, MAY 16, 2011 - About 35 people gathered at the offices of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union on Wellesley St in Toronto on May 15 to organize a plan to prevent the deportation of queer Toronto artist and advocate Alvaro Orozco.
 
Orozco has been held at the Toronto Immigration Holding Centre in Rexdale since he was picked up by Toronto police at Ossington Station on May 13. He is scheduled for a detention review hearing on Tuesday, May 17. Orozco has been living in Toronto, illegally, under a deportation order since October of 2007. So it is not likely that he will be released at the hearing. He may be deported immediately to either Nicaragua or the US, or he may be held pending travel details or the outcome of an outstanding Humanitarian and Compassionate Considerations application filed on his behalf. He faces imprisonment in the US and threats against his safety in Nicaragua.
 
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has the authority to grant that application. Orozco’s fate rests in his hands.
 
“Detention review depends on how well the community is able to access the minister’s ear,” says Toronto immigration lawyer and human-rights activist El-Farouk Khaki. “I actually think that Alvaro has a really good humanitarian compassionate grounds application. His work in the community, his socialization, the advocacy work, his work as an artist, I think speak well for themselves. Somebody has to listen.”
 
Khaki represented Orozco for his second preremoval risk assessment process and prepared the Humanitarian and Compassionate Considerations application for him, but detention reviews are not his area of expertise. 
 
“Everything that was legally available in terms of process, we have done,” says Khaki. “I represented him for two applications; other lawyers have done other applications for him. At this point, ultimately the minister still has jurisdiction to step in.”
 
“Ideologically speaking, you would think that when Minister Kenney gets to know the real story that he would do the right thing,” says community advocate Suhail Abualsameed. “If it’s out there and if he knows what’s happening, then he will feel compassionate enough to do it.”
 
Abualsameed organizes the Newcomer and Immigrant Queer Youth Project at Supporting Our Youth (SOY). He first met Orozco in 2007 and has worked with him ever since.
 
“He’s gone through a lot and has been through this situation many times in the last 12 years,” says Abualsameed. “He’s very resilient, he’s very nervous and anxious. At the same time he’s resigned to the fact that whatever will be will be. So, his demeanour is comfortable at times and sometimes he overthinks things.”
 
Abualsameed and Khaki say one way for community members to help is to contact Immigration Minister Jason Kenney. Urge Kenney to grant residency to Orozco based on his Humanitarian and Compassionate Considerations application. If you know Orozco personally, telling Kenney about his contributions to Toronto's gay community and the dangers facing him if he is deported are likely to be most helpful.
 
Secondly, join the Let Alvaro Stay Facebook page. There you will find details about other upcoming events and more ways you can help as they emerge.

* * *

MAY 15, 10:15am - Gay artist Alvaro Orozco was arrested in Toronto on Friday, May 13.
 
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, when he came to Toronto. At his initial 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.
 
His story made headlines in Canada and in Nicaragua.
 
Orozco’s subsequent appeals were denied. He was scheduled to be deported in October of 2007 and has been in hiding ever since.

Read his story here. And here. 
 
A community meeting is scheduled for 2pm, Sunday, May 15 at 31 Wellesley St E in Toronto.
 
More on Orozco and the May 15 meeting, snipped from an email to Xtra, below.....
 
*Queer Artist Alvaro Orozco Arrested by Immigration Enforcement.*
 
*Urgent Community Meeting
2pm. 31 Wellesley East
Sunday, 15 May 2011
*
*Let Alvaro Stay Campaign
 
At 8pm on Friday evening, award-winning undocumented queer artist Alvaro
Orozco was arrested on his way to dinner with friends. Now in detention at
the Toronto Immigration Holding Centre, he faces imminent deportation to
Nicaragua.
 
An accomplished artist and dedicated advocate for queer and newcomer youth,
Alvaro's love for art and commitment to community has captured the
appreciation and respect of thousands of people in Toronto. He received the
2010 Street-Level Advocate Award from the Toronto Youth Cabinet and City of
Toronto in recognition of his work with queer and newcomer youth.
 
Alvaro first rose to national prominence in 2007 when his refugee claim was
denied on the basis that he did not look "gay enough" for the adjudicator
hearing his case via a television screen in Calgary.
 
This story was picked up by the largest newspapers in Nicaragua,
effectively "outing" him to the entire country he left at age 12 due to
severe physical abuse by a father who threatened to "kill any child of his
that was homosexual."
 
Alvaro, now 25, is still waiting for a decision on his Humanitarian and
Compassionate (H&C) application.
 
Friends and supporters of Alvaro are meeting to move quickly to stay his
deportation. It is critical that we keep this strong voice in our community.
 
 
*Alvaro's Accomplishments & Exhibits*
 
- Volunteer/Mentor with Supporting Our Youth (SOY)
- Mayworks Festival, Toronto, 2011
- Toronto Youth Cabinet, 2010 Identify & Impact Awards, Street-Level
Advocate Award Winner
- Migrant Expressions Photography Exhibition, Montreal, 2009
- Under the Bridge Art Exhibition, Toronto, 2009
- Jumblies Theatre, Prop-Maker and Photographer, Toronto, 2009
- Refugee Rights Day, Toronto City Hall, Toronto, 2008
- ArtWherk Collective 2007, Pride Art Exhibition, Toronto, 2007
 
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Comments

The fault lies with a dumb Canadian system
The fault is not so much with the IRB as with our lousy system. As soon as someone makes a refugee claim, everything hangs exclusively on a dubious assessment of their circumstances and the conditions in the country from whence they came.

Refugees are not permitted to file a concurrent immigration application to prove their value to Canada. Anything they have achieved in Canada or done to benefit this country while living here counts for absolutely nothing. They might be fifty times more capable than a successful immigration applicant and it matters not - our system doesn't allow their value to this country to ever be taken into account. Even if they were Jesus Christ resurrected it would make no difference.

So, time after time, we throw out babies with the bath water. And regrettably the politicians who created and retain these rules are a lot dumber than many of the refugees.
Life is a Bitch
Send him back NOW! He broke the law he pays the price. Once back he can go through the legal channels. Good Riddance!
what ignorance by the IRB!
There is a real problem with the IRB when dealing with LGBT refugees, too often gay refugees are being told they don't look gay enough or they don't act gay enough or that they can pass as hetero so they shouldn't have any problems in the country they're fleeing and then get their refugee claim rejected. How does anyone tell someone else is gay? Why should LGBT people be forced to live in the closet to be safe? When people's lives are on the line the IRB should be wiling to err on the side of caution in protecting refugee claimants. So often they overlook the realities faced by gay refugee claimants in the countries they're fleeing. For example in this case one of the excuses the IRB used to deny he's gay was that he didn't pursue a gay relationship while in the US, but considering he was a teenager who had to remain closeted because he was being aided by a church group who might have rejected him had they known he's gay its not at all surprising. I didn't either when I was a teenager like Orozco, does that mean I'm not gay as well? As well the IRB refused to consider documents from Amnesty International and Nicaraguan newspapers about the risk to him if he is returned but did consider a report of a gay cruising area in Nicaragua as evidence that it is in fact safe for him to return in spite of the fact that many gay men get shot and killed at that cruising area. Besides which if they didn't believe he's gay why would they consider evidence of a gay cruising area as evidence that it'd be safe for him to be gay in Nicaragua? The way the IRB currently operates with no meaningful appeal process ensures that the personal bigotry of IRB judges will continue to taint their decisions, especially when dealing with LGBT refugees. The IRB needs to be reformed to ensure the personal prejudice of IRB judges is never again allowed to send refugees back to their deaths. Its happened before with rejected LGBT refugee applicants, we can only hope Orozco survives if he's sent back.
exclusion policy
It’s simply inhumane for Canada’s Conservative Government and Immigration Minister to attempt to turn genuine convention refugees away from a better life in this country. The Conservative Government should immediately change its exclusion policy, which appears to more about discrimination and institutionalized racism. Even appeals through the Humanitarian and
Compassionate grounds are not guarantees. Which is all rather surprising in Alvaro Orozco's arrest. Jason Kenney Federal Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism said in June 2010. Private organizations like gay and lesbian groups need to reach out and sponsor more refugees and bring them to Canada. "And we do what we can on a limited basis but I'm saying perhaps it's time for those organizations to step up and do so in a more organized fashion," Kenney said.
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