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Orozco released from immigration detention


Orozco released from immigration detention

Brandon Sawh speaks at a rally in support of Alvaro Orozco May 31. IMAGE 1 OF 1
'I feel safe,' Nicaraguan artist says
UPDATE JUNE 1, 2PM: Alvaro Orozco was released from detention today, June 1, at roughly 10am.

"I feel shocked, but at the same time I feel excited and happy,” Orozco says. “A lot of people are happy.”

“It doesn’t get much shorter or sweeter than that,” said Richard Wazana, Orozco’s lawyer, as he stepped out of the detention review.  Pending a successful medical exam, Orozco is officially free to begin the process of applying for permanent residence status.

“I’m very excited… I feel like I belong to somewhere. I belong to Canada now, so I feel safe,” says Orozco. “I feel like I have more rights, so that’s a nice feeling.”

Now that Orozco’s status is secure, he hopes to pursue his formal education. “I want to finish my high school education, and I want to go to college and get a certificate as a photographer and a certificate as a painter, but my main goal is to start studying to become an architect-designer,” he says.

Orozco says that while he didn’t feel safe in Nicaragua, he would still like to support the country he left when he was 12. “One of my goals, also, is to save money and to open a house in Nicaragua for kids who are on the street, and for kids who are gay but who live on the street or who are thrown out by their families,” he says.

In the past weeks, more than 1,500 people joined the Let Alvaro Stay movement on Facebook.

But Orozco's journey is far from over, says his friend Suhail Abualsameed. 

"There's so much process around sorting out the technicalities" with regard to applying for healthcare and a work permit, for example, Abualsameed explains. "The system is not very easy to navigate."

"He's got big plans... he can't do everything at once. This is not the end of the road where everything's going to be oh-so-easy. There's a lot of work yet to be done." 

UPDATE MAY 31, 5:30PM:
After spending almost a month in a detention centre awaiting deportation, Alvaro Orozco will be able to stay in Canada, according to those close to him. The Nicaraguan-born gay artist was granted a stay on humanitarian and compassionate grounds May 31.
That means that Orozco can begin the process of becoming a permanent resident. And after that, he will be free to apply to become a Canadian citizen if he so chooses.
Orozco told Suhail Abualsameed this afternoon that he would have a detention review June 1, in which he would be informed of the approval of his application to stay in Canada.
"He couldn't continue speaking," Abualsameed remembers. "It's overwhelming... it's like a miracle.”

Abualsameed credits the application's success to the activist presence that supported Orozco. "The work we've  done... created an urgency within immigration to actually look at this application," he says.
The news came after members of the queer and Latino communities held three demonstrations within the span of a single week.
Until news broke that his humanitarian application had been accepted, activists worried that he would be deported before his application was considered.
Orozco has not yet been released from the detention centre.

MAY 31, 2PM:
Alvaro Orozco will remain in Canada for at least one more week. His deportation has been deferred until June 9, a move that some of his supporters suggest is a result of their vocal involvement with his case.  

However, his humanitarian and compassionate grounds application remains in limbo, and no date has been set for that review.

News of the deferral was greated by cheers outside the 519 Church Street Community Centre, where about 30 people came to show their support for Orozco.

“This is showing a lot of power in our community right now,” says Craig Fortier, of No One Is Illegal --Toronto, at the outdoor rally May 31.

“We have no idea why that is, but we see it, obviously, as progress.”

But Ryan Hayes, a friend of Orozco’s, isn’t so sure.

“Knowing Immigration Canada, they can be very vicious... like sometimes, it’s just a red herring,” he says.  “Other times, especially when people mobilize, sometimes they’ve sped up deportations.”

The fate of Orozco is in the hands of two different government departments. Deportation orders are handled by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), but refugee claims — including Orozco's application to remain in Canada on humanitarian grounds — are handled by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC.)

As it stands, Orozco is likely to be deported by the CBSA before CIC hears his humanitarian appeal.

But Suhail Abualsameed says he’s spoken with Lucille Le Blanc, the director of the Ontario region of Immigration Canada; he says she's suggested that the CBSA and CIC are communicating about the timeline of Orozco's case.

“She looked at the file and she told me that ‘we are aware, they are talking to each other’…and then a couple hours after Alvaro called me and told me his deportation had been deferred,” Abualsameed says.

Calls to Le Blanc were not returned by press time.

But Abualsameed won’t speculate on whether Orozco’s review might be expedited in light of his date of removal. “That’s not saying they’re doing anything about it… I’m not saying that, because I don’t know.”

After the CBSA set a deportation date of June 2, Orozco’s lawyer, Richard Wazana, requested a deferral on May 27.

"And the deferral was a response to that request,” Abualsameed says. “We did hear from immigration that they are aware of the timeline [and…] they are in conversations with [CBSA.]"

That being said, the status of Orozco’s humanitarian and compassionate grounds application remains officially undetermined: “Nobody would give us that date.”
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Apples & Oranges
@ Claudio, first, the case you sight of the daughter that was killed by her Father is very different from Mr.Orozco's situation. First the daughter lived with her Father under the same roof. Secondly, I would assume that Mr. Orozon would be a little more equipped and prepared as a grown male to fend off his Father than the 16 girl that was killed. No points from your comment(s) can be connected.
@ Rich, I seldom ever agree with anything you post, BUT, it was interesting seeing you give credit to Harper & Kenny. Now we just have to see Rich give credit to Harper and the Conservative party for appointing GAY Conservative MP John Baird to Government House Leader in the House of Commons.
most definitely a gay issue, cont'd
Our immigration system in Canada is generally pretty fair but our refugee system has some serious flaws in it as Orozco's case showed. It used to be refugee cases were determined by a 3 person IRB panel, when that was changed to just one person deciding cases there was supposed to be an appeal process put in place to ensure that the personal prejudice or bigotry of a IRB judge didn't cause claims to be denied which should have been approved. However the appeal process has never been put in place so there is no protection for refugee applicants from the personal biases of the IRB judge. As is they can only appeal on very narrow legal grounds and cannot appeal the ruling directly as they should've been able to do since they switched from a 3 person to a 1 person system for determining refugee cases. Its not surprising that sexual minorities applying for refugee status here should fare the worse under a one person IRB system since sexual minorities face a very large amount of prejudice and bigotry in Canadian society. The IRB recently appointed a former anti-gay activist, Doug Cryer, as a judge determining refugee cases, what chances do think a LGBT refugee would have if Cryer was determining their case? IRB judges are just as prone to being bigots as any other Canadian and there is no chance of appealing their decisions even if their bigotry against the applicant is obvious. No system is perfect but our refugee system rejects too many for dubious reasons at best such as political interference. Since the Harper Cons have been in gov't 56% fewer refugee claims have been approved while the total number of refugee claims have dropped by approx. 30%, http://noii-van.resist.ca/?p=1027 As well the Harper Cons have been playing on Canadians prejudices by calling the Tamil refugees terrorists and criminals without any evidence they were. Our refugee system is supposed to protect people, too often it fails, mostly from a lack of an appeal process and political interference.
most definitely a gay issue
This whole incident is most definitely a gay issue, I can't understand why some are saying it isn't, he was denied status as a refugee because an IRB judge didn't think he looked gay and because he didn't pursue same sex relationships when he was in the US as a teenager under the care of Christian group. How can anyone tell someone is gay or not just by looking at them? Sure some gay guys are obviously gay but not every gay man is, I'd say the vast majority aren't visibly gay in any way shape or form. As well how many of us never dared seek out same sex relationships when we were closeted teenagers? Orozco had extra reason to remain closeted while in the US since the church group taking care of him might very well have changed their minds had they known he's gay. To deny that he's gay because of these reasons is the same as denying the vast majority of gay men are gay because we aren't visibly gay and didn't date other gay guys when we were teenagers. The IRB denies refugee claims all the time from gay/lesbian folks because they also didn't think they were gay enough and/or could effectively remain closeted. How is that not a gay issue? If Orozco's IRB judge had recognized that he is in fact gay he very likely would have been given status as a refugee in Canada since the reason given for denying his claim was because they didn't believe he's gay. Again how is that not a gay issue? Gays and lesbians deserve the same protection as refugees as anyone else does, if someone were applying for refugee status because of religious persecution the IRB would never tell them to pretend they were a different religion and send them back but they do tell gay/lesbian refugee applicants to pretend they're hetero and send them back to the country they fled. Our refugee system failed in Orozco's case by not accepting that he is in fact gay, allowing him to stay on compassionate grounds was the only way to undo the wrong done by Orozco's refugee judge in not recognizing he's gay.
In response to Jeff
Not too long ago we had a case here in Ontario, where a father killed his 16yo daughter for her refusal to wear a hijab. That poor girl, I believe, trusted her father all the way to the end of her life, Jeff, until she was caught out of guard and paid for the consequences of trying to be whoever she wanted to be. Now, Alvaro fled his homophobic father; Nicaragua is not much of a large country; Jeff, can you connect the points? What would you do?
I agree with Matt
Every word. It's disgusting how the unenforced and toothless our immigration laws are........................And, wow, Rich admits he was wrong.
good to see
I'm very glad to hear that Kenney allowed Orozco to stay in Canada on compassionate grounds. There were serious problems with his refugee hearing where he was denied status because the IRB judge didn't believe he was gay, in part because he didn't look very gay to her even though they were never in the same room together. Its very likely his refugee application would have been approved had he'd been recognized as being gay. As well there were problems with his pre-removal risk assessment which didn't allow important information about his situation from Amnesty International and news reports from Nicaragua. Considering all the problems with his refugee application and the fact that he has established himself in the community its very fitting that he should be allowed to stay on compassionate grounds. To be honest I doubted a Harper Con would grant a gay man a stay on compassionate grounds, but I'm glad to see I was wrong.
is this website for gay people?
Congrats! You played the system!!!
To all those had wonderful comments for me....
1. He was illegal in the USA and then did the same thing in Canada, We have a process that your follow when you come to this country. I am not going to welcome someone to this country who does not follow the laws, so we can all end up paying his prison bill years down the road. BTW you all paid his immigration bill.- He has zero regard for the law abiding society and has made that clear since he lived here for years and the USA.- all of which he was not authorized to do. He made a complete joke of the system that is in place.

This is not about just taxes, He is not a child, he is an adult and has been for a long time. Give me a break bleeding hearts!!! Its NOT A GAY ISSUE! He used that to skirt under the laws and make a complete joke of our system. HIs life was never in danger and that in it self was a joke.

Now that he is here, I better not read that our beloved friend and brother is now in jail for some god knows what crime.
New category?
Maybe there should be a new category of immigrant, where we grant permanent residency to candidates based on petition of a large number of people, who then collectively become sponsors of the person and ensure a successful integration into the community. It seems to me that if many Canadians want someone in their neighbourhood, Canada should be facilitating that, not making it difficult.
Well said Matt .....
What a joke - a joke on Canada and all it's tax payers and all the people that immigrated LEGALLY. How this guy was every granted the privilege ( well it was once a privilege, now it seems anyone can sneak in) of staying in Canada is beyond me. He broke several laws, both in the US and later in Canada. I wonder if the federal Govt is going to ask him for the taxes he owes on the money he's made under the table since sneaking in to Canada ? Hold on everyone, because the flood gates are about to break wide open. PS, his life was never in danger btw Claudio. It was his Father that didn't approve of him being gay - the Govt of his country wasn't after him. This fact was admitted to in previous news stories about his case.


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