Thursday, March 17, 2011

U.S. denies asylum to Chilean activist

By Teresa Gutierrez
Published Mar 16, 2011 3:39 PM

In early March the judge presiding over the case of Victor Toro denied Toro’s request for political asylum. Toro faces possible deportation anytime in the next 30 days.

This denial is a blow to the struggle for justice not only for Toro but for all the undocumented and documented immigrants for whom Toro has fought so hard.

Toro is a Chilean revolutionary who organized in his homeland for workers rights. He was a founder of the heroic and revolutionary Movement of the Revolutionary Left (MIR) and part of the movement against the fascist U.S.-backed Gen. Augusto Pinochet following the 1973 coup against President Salvador Allende.

In 2007 Toro was racially profiled on an Amtrak train in upstate New York and was detained for not having proper immigration documents. His supporters and lawyers have demanded political asylum since deportation back to Chile would uproot him from his family and community in the Bronx. In addition, he faces repression and even the danger of being killed if he is returned to Chile, as the fascist goons from the Pinochet era still loom in the shadows there.

Despite the unfavorable ruling, the struggle for justice and political asylum for Toro continues. The committee to support Toro is meeting to figure out the next steps. For continued information on the case and to find out how to get involved, visit

Communication from Toro’s attorney Carlos Moreno

The following comments are from a communication that Toro’s attorney, Carlos Moreno, sent out following the judge’s decision:

“Immigration judge Sarah Burr has inexplicably denied Victor Toro’s application for political asylum. The evidence presented along with Victor Toro’s testimony were of such magnitude that no objective judge could have denied the petition for asylum presented by the Chilean former political prisoner.

“Judge Burr concluded that Victor Toro took too long in presenting his application for Political Asylum and that the political conditions in Chile had sufficiently changed so that Victor Toro can return to Chile without problems. This conclusion by Judge Burr completely ignores the testimony presented by Victor Toro.

“Victor Toro’s legal team expressed concern since the moment lawyers for the Department of Homeland Security introduced the idea that Victor Toro was linked to ‘Terrorism’ or a ‘Terrorist’ himself. The concern was that the accusation of terrorism, though unfounded, would not allow for the case to be judged justly and objectively. The decision by Judge Burr shows us that our concerns were valid.

“How can the denial of his political asylum request be justified? Especially for a man whose political and social work are the very essence of what political asylum should be? How can they ignore the persecution and suffering felt by Victor Toro during the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, a dictatorship which was financed by the United States. How can the risk he faced as a target by Operation Condor be minimized?


“We shall appeal what we consider to be an unjust, irrational and inexplicable decision. We shall lift our voices until the highest circles of power in the United States hear our case.

“Carlos Moreno, Esq.”

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