Workers Vanguard No. 896

3 August 2007


Political Asylum for Victor Toro!

(Class-Struggle Defense Notes)

The following Partisan Defense Committee letter was sent to Julie L. Myers, Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, on July 30.

The Partisan Defense Committee vehemently protests the July 6 arrest and threatened deportation of Victor Toro, who for over 20 years has been a well-known advocate for immigrants and the poor in New York City. Mr. Toro was caught up in an anti-immigrant sweep on an Amtrak train outside Rochester, New York, by U.S. Border Patrol officers who worked their way down his car demanding to know passengers’ citizenship and residence status.

A Chilean refugee, Mr. Toro was charged under the Immigration and Nationality Act with entering and remaining in the U.S. illegally. Mr. Toro escaped from the notorious U.S.-backed Pinochet dictatorship in Chile after enduring several years of imprisonment and torture. In 1978, the Chilean government declared him dead, making him not only stateless but a non-person, someone who could be easily disappeared by his political enemies with no questions asked, as thousands were. Since then his two applications for a Chilean passport have been rejected, and he has strong reason to believe that his life would be in danger if he were to return to Chile. Mr. Toro’s wife, Nieves Ayress, has been told by Chilean authorities that he will be arrested and charged with identity theft if he travels to Chile.

Now this very same U.S. government, whose backing of the brutal Pinochet coup cost the lives of thousands of union militants, leftists and social activists, intends to deport one of those victims who survived. Under the guise of the never-ending “war on terror,” since September 2001 Homeland Security anti-immigrant sweeps and raids have spearheaded an overall assault on the civil liberties of everyone in this country, native-born and immigrant alike.

Mr. Toro’s lawyer has announced plans to seek political asylum. We demand that all charges be dropped and that he be granted political asylum.