Archives for posts with tag: Secure Communities

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 love this picture.  Francis Bacon and Lucien Freud in Wheelers.

1.

Waking up at Robby’s apartment.  West Hollywood.  Feeling like I have a hangover.  I haven’t.  I’m still not drinking.  Waiting for the right moment…but it never comes.  The sanctity of sobriety.

It’s hard after nearly 16 years to think about the right time to start drinking.

A woman I know from the programme called yesterday.  I told her that I had renounced AA.  “How’s that working out for you?”  She pried condescendingly.

I faked a dropped call.

2.

Saturday pre pride party.  Good fun.  The über gays.  The fake NYC producer I mentioned in an earlier post sitting at his table wondering how I manage to surround myself with such beauty.  He looked exasperated.  Staring over at us.

Pride was a great deal of fun.  On the streets.  The floats have not changed for 30 years: muscle boys and drag queens.  Not very inventive.

I stayed at the London Hotel courtesy of my Kuwaiti friends. They pitched up at 8am.  We ate smoked fish and Quiche for breakfast.

3.

Nothing is obvious.  Just when you thought you’d never kiss anyone meaningfully ever again.

I saw you in the bar and knew you were the one.  A brief conversation.  Kisses, glances, then you pissed on me.  That was new to both of us but so damned exciting.  A mouth full of piss.  Then we spent the afternoon talking.  Eating.  Each other.

You left an impression.   Creases in the bed sheets.

4.

Without me even noticing it LA is full of gay men with beards.

Does this mean that they/we are growing up? That men are trumping boys? The aesthetic is not only very pleasing but means I get looked at all over again. I have some currency…if you know what I mean.

5.

I don’t have time to write this very often.  There’s a great deal to do.

I’m helping those boys in the jail, even though they don’t know it.  Meeting lawyers down town who are investigating conditions in the jail.  They seem shocked.  Young lawyers.  Fresh faced.  Idealists.

I try balancing my complaints with a broader understanding of the jail dynamic.  The deputies are not just cruel…they are frightened.  They do not treat the trans population with contempt because they hate gays, they are confused by the feelings the girls bring up in them.

Ernest lawyers ask how I would change things in the jail.  I am always prepared for those questions.

Last week I sat with Senator Ron S.Calderon who is co-sponsoring a bill in the State of California that would basically abolish the situation in which I found myself.  Protocols would have to be adhered to.  States right to decide trumping the draconian Immigration Department.

I drive for hours to get to the meeting and speak clearly and concisely.  I know that I am speaking on behalf of thousands of wrongly incarcerated immigrants.

I go to cities I would never usually visit.  I am introduced to people I would never usually meet.  Immigrant rights advocates, Methodist ministers.  I am familiar with Secure Communities.  I hear terrible stories.  They tell me that ICE operate like the Gestapo.  They spread fear in the immigrant communities, wrecking homes, lives, marriages, separating families, sending children into foster care.

6.

Then, there is the other work.  Kevin, my incredible new assistant, and I…running all over town.  Putting this show together.  Holding things together.

Today I see the doctor.  No good news all over again. I’m sure.

Wish me luck.

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