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John Bonnar is an independent journalist covering social justice events in and around Toronto through print, photo, audio, video and slideshows. You can connect with him on Facebook (John Bonnar) or on Twitter at @johnb98 or on YouTube at johnb98.

Alvaro Orozco granted residency status

| June 1, 2011
Photo: John Bonnar

The deportation order against award winning photographer and queer community advocate Alvaro Orozco has been revoked after he won his application for immigration status based on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

No One is Illegal said Orozco's application for status was approved late Tuesday afternoon and he will be released from detention on Wednesday.

"Community power, grassroots organizing from St.John's to Victoria, and Alvaro's inspiring resilience in the face of immigration-detention created this people's victory," said No One is Illegal.

"Even though most mainstream media outlets refused to cover Alvaro's story, we were able to organize immense public pressure in the last two weeks."

Orozco's deportation was initially set for June 2 but late Monday evening was delayed to June 9.

Friends and supporters rallied outside the 519 Community Centre in Toronto on Tuesday morning to pressure the government to stay the deportation order and grant Orozco residency status.

Staff from Lesbian Gay Bi Trans (LGBT) Youth Line were on hand to present an award to Orozco in absentia. He is set to receive an award for Outstanding Contribution to Arts & Culture at the 13th Annual Community Youth Awards on June 10, the day after his scheduled deportation date.

Orozco was selected to receive the award on May 2.

"We want him here after May 10 to continue doing great work," said Brandon Sawh, Fundraising Coordinator at LGBT Youth Line. "It's unfortunate that we have to do this today with him not here."

Alvaro has been in immigration detention since May 13 after being arrested by Toronto Police outside Ossington station.

Since his arrest nearly 9,000 people have signed a petition on his behalf and hundreds of people have rallies in multiple rallies across the city.

Orozco has lived in Toronto since arriving in Canada five years ago. His photograhy has been exhibited at the Mayworks Festival, Migrant Expressions Photography Exhibition, Under the Bridge Art Exhibition, Toronto City Hall and the Pride Art Exhibition.

Mayworks board member Kim Crosby came to know Orozco as a fellow queer artist when he shared his work and his story as part of the Resiliance Exhibit which was designed to explore the numerous ways that queer and trans folks of colour overcome challenges of oppression, violence and stigmatization.

"There is no question whether he is courageous or brilliant," said Crosby. "He's shared with openness the violence he has faced and the violence that is facing him upon his return."

Orozco has also worked with Jumblies Theatre as a photographer and prop-designer in three large productions.

"The power is in the community," said long time friend Carolina Gama. "That is why we are here."

Click here to see more photos from the rally and press conference.

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