Archives for posts with tag: Immigration

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Governor Jerry Brown vetoed the TRUST Act, a bill championed by immigrants rights advocates.

The bill, which was the antithesis of Arizona’s SB 1070, would have helped stop racial profiling and restore trust and transparency between California’s communities and law enforcement officials.

While the outcome of the fight is disappointing, I am thankful for activists who appealed to Governor Brown by signing thousands of petitions then making hundreds of calls to his office urging him to sign the bill.

Adam Luna, is the Political Director of America’s Voice, a leading immigrants rights organization wanted to share this message:

“While it was a bitter disappointment to see the governor veto the TRUST Act, I wanted to let you know how much your activism and solidarity made a real difference.

11,300 petition signatures (more than any other organization!), which were hand-delivered in Sacramento, hundreds of phone calls — it was amazing.”

Those of us in the immigration reform movement know that this is not a fight which is going to be won overnight and the governor said that he’s open to making a deal next year because he knows that you, and we, won’t rest until the fight is won.

While Governor Brown’s failure of leadership on this issue is disheartening, the campaign for fair and sensible immigration policies will go on.

Next week I will be announcing my very own action against the secure communities protocol that incarnated me and thousands of people like me.

A few months ago a young, gay Australian man here legally in the USA on a tourist visa was arrested for peeing in public (a sex crime felony in the state of California) and held in the Men’s Country Jail until he agreed to be deported.

Why?

IMMIGRATION REFORM NOW!

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Good news.

The TRUST Act passed the Senate last Thursday by a 21-13 vote.

Senator Lieu voted in support.

Now, the bill will need a concurrent vote from the Assembly (the first version of the bill passed the Assembly last year, so another vote is needed given that the bill was amended this year), and then it will head to the Governor’s desk.

This is great.

My time in jail was worth it.

1.

No. Not what you ‘re thinking…hoping?

I set out at 6am for the Men’s County Jail to see my friend Jeremy who is presently residing in dorm 5200.

Jeremy is a good-looking white man in his mid-thirties. A meth head with a penchant for transsexuals.

He has two kids in Utah. He used to manage an ihop.

He is the kind of character I couldn’t invent from a movie I couldn’t write. A charming man with anger issues.

Like most inmates he is pre-occupied with his own case, another miserable drug dealer hauled off the streets.

We spoke for thirty minutes, I left $50 for him to eat well and I drove home.

The deputies who processed us into the jail were very pleasant, polite.

2.

Yesterday we drove to Redondo Beach where we met with Democratic State Senator Lieu.

The second State Senator I have met this month. He has a strange constituency, ranging from progressive liberals in the Venice area to hard-core Odinists in Orange County.

We sat in the sparse office with his Harvard educated interns. They were polite but they didn’t offer us water or coffee.

Our successful visit last month to Senator Calderon lead to his decision to co-sponsor the Trust Act.

The bill then passed the Senate Public Safety Committee and is now headed towards the Senate Floor .

The Trust Act will make what happened to me less likely to happen to others. It may liberate the 3000 un-convicted men and women currently held on ICE holds in California.

The Trust Act will demand that ICE follows its own guidelines, its own rules.

It is essential that Senator Lieu support this bill.

Lieu is an interesting man.

In his Redondo office there is a huge studio photograph of Lieu and his family lounging on a white, fluffy rug. He is wearing a dress shirt but no tie.

He has been a vociferous supporter of the LGBT community, especially the transsexual population for whom he reserves special respect.

I sat with Kristine Chong from The Californian Immigrants Policy Center and three other Immigrant rights specialists… including a day labourer from Mexico in the Senator’s dingy ‘conference’ room.

Lieu’s people wore badly cut suits. We all began to sweat in the un air-conditioned office.

Antonio, the day laborer, spoke very movingly about the catastrophic effect ICE and the Secure Communities protocol are having on the immigrant population. Families broken apart, 5000 American children made orphans, their mothers and fathers deported.

Immigrants are routinely forced to sign deportation papers or threatened with months held in privately owned immigration camps, camps that are currently costing the people of California 6 million dollars a year

The situation is tantamount to ethnic cleansing.

This state has enjoyed, for many years, low-cost manual labour on which their false economy was based. Now, these undocumented migrants are being rounded up like animals. Targeted on the streets, in their cars, in their homes.

ICE have to deport 400, 000 people a year to fulfill a federal government quota.

Even President Obama’s announcement last week supporting The Dream Act didn’t stop three ‘Dreamers’ being deported yesterday.

I told my story. I told them what they must have heard many times out of Latino mouths. Spanish speakers, their accents somehow devaluing what they have to say.

Listen to me.  Listen to my clipped British accent.  Listen to me eloquently tell my story.  Pay attention to the dramatic pauses.

It is always very shocking for them (especially the starched, ivy league interns) that an affluent white person could have got caught up in the immigration net.

They bowed their heads in shame.

After 45 minutes our meeting is over.

They tell us that Lieu’s support on the Senate floor cannot be assured, he has to pamper to the right-wing element of his constituency. They say: Lieu, in the past, has been threatened physically for supporting immigrants rights. He received death threats.

Pampering to the right? I ask incredulously. Pampering to the right will keep this state poor, our children uneducated, the prisons full and gay men like me… unmarried and childless.

Be brave, I urge him, and do the right thing.

As we are leaving we pass another group of men and women patiently waiting their turn to be heard. They could have been Odinists for all I know, demanding that Lieu hunt down every illegal immigrant in California and throw away the key.

I am in Sierra Blanca, a two-horse strip of nothing near El Paso Texas.  I should be in Marfa looking at art but life has a remarkable way of getting in the way of ones intentions.

Yesterday started off badly and ended up even worse.

We woke up in the New Inn Willcox.  The four of us.  Grumpy and tired.

We set off for Marfa, ended up in Las Cruces by the Rio Grande.

This tiny, charming place made famous by the forests of pecans and pistachios planted around the town.  There was a small street market where we baked in the midday sun.

I found a dedicated AA meeting-house.

Bagel was worried by our travelling through these southern border towns because his Swedish passport was well out of date.   We scoffed.  We weren’t going anywhere near the border.  Yet, the proximity still scared him.

After lunch everyone was in great spirits, the road was clear, we were making good time.   Lively, intelligent conversation.  That was until we were funneled into a homeland security border control and everything went to shit.

Big time.

We were routinely stopped and asked if we were US citizens.

None of us are.

Of course within minutes they discovered that Thomas’s (Bagel) passport was out of date and he had over stayed his welcome in the USA.

Then, to my horror they told me that my passport had problems and I too was detained.

Detained.  For the next twenty hours I underwent a harrowing scrutiny.

I must say however that all of the border control agents, the ICE patrol guys and every single official I came into contact with was courteous, kind and helpful.

Quite unlike any British police officer..except the detective I met last summer with the sociopath.

These men and women have a tough, demanding job but, from what I saw, within that tiny little office at the edge of Interstate 10 there is a good family atmosphere.  They seem to mainly deal with cannabis infractions.  The sniffer dogs leaping on anyone with weed in their car.

Each dog is an official agent and has it’s own badge.

Just as I was leaving they brought in ten young goth men and women.  Their tattoos and piercings at odds with the uniformed officers.

Again, I only saw the agents be utterly polite, once going out of their way to fetch an elder lady a wheel chair.

My situation was more complicated than Thomas’s as he had simply over stayed.  So, after many, many phone calls I was released with my passport re-stamped correctly.

Thomas was not so lucky and is now languishing in an alien holding camp with a thousand other illegal aliens.

Of course all I worried about was the Little Dog who had to sit in a huge cage whilst they were processing me.  He looks a little traumatized this morning.  If I had been traveling on my own they would have called the pound.

It does not bear thinking about.

So, here we are.  In El Paso at a cool coffee-house near the convention center hooked up to the internet waiting for 6 o’clock to roll around so we can visit Thomas.   The Dane is obviously worried about his friend so we are obliged to curtail our trip.

This means that I will be in New York for the premiere of Transformers 3 and other choice events.

I have a great deal to achieve this coming week.  I have hospital appointments, friends arriving from London and LA for my birthday party.

I am just thankful that the border immigration folk expedited my passport problem.

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