The man I love was taken by ICE
It’s a cold November morning in Portland, Oregon. I am sitting in a public lobby in Portland's South Waterfront district distressed, sad, and worried. The story of how I got to this moment is as follows:
I woke up like any other morning, started coffee and turned on the news for today's events. As I prepared for a day at work there was a loud knock on the door. This is unusual for 6am, so I looked to see you it was and saw police uniforms. My first thought was that there was some kind of incident outside. I asked what this was about as I opened the door. They asked for my boyfriend by name and wanted to know if he was home. “He is asleep.” I said. They insisted I wake him up.
I was scared and upset as I went into the bedroom to wake him. We looked at each other with shock and fright. I will never forget the look on his face. This is someone I love and need. The uncertainty of what was about to happen made me nauseous.
There were six officers, wearing full protective gear, guns, and radios. They explained that they were arresting my partner and taking him away. He was cuffed and arrested without even being allowed to get dressed. I put socks and shoes on him as the officers stood guard. I grabbed a hoodie so he wouldn't be cold, they led the man I'm in love with away. Devastated, I started sending messages to friends and family. I've never felt so helpless. All I was left with is a card from one of the officers, an empty lonely feeling in my heart, and the idea that I may never see him again.
Rushing to get to my lost love, was torture. Driving was difficult due to traffic and the whole experience being blurred with tears. All I can think about is how scared he must be and how scared I am. Going through the metal detectors at the Dept. of Homeland Security and realizing the building is shielded from cel phone access made me think how paranoid we have become as a nation. I stare through a 2" thick piece of bulletproof Lexan at the man I'm in love with and it symbolizes the separation my own government is using to 'protect' me from immigrants. How are we not all human?
He is a LEGAL immigrant, educated, employed, pays taxes… Tears ensue. I am torn to leave because I may not see my love again, but there with my phone being blocked from cellular service I am unable to help. I regretfully leave to make calls and get a lawyer to come help. Cashiers Check I hand as I hire an attorney, and promises from friends to help, only slightly diminish my horror about this situation. I have messages and calls from friends and family stacking up, all awaiting the news, hopeful of his release.
This brings me to a public lobby in Portland's South Waterfront District where I await a decision that will affect my life in one of the greatest ways possible. I'm not sure how to go on without the person I like e and depend on. My office and his hospital are both affected by our absence. The policies of our government are supposed to help us live a better life right? So many others are affected as well. Like ripples in a still pond this disturbance I felt today affects all those that my love and I touch.
I await the return of my love as I write this. I am alone now. The apartment is silent. He is gone.
Chapter 2: The Journey
I met Luis as our mutual long term relationships were coming to finality. My departure, from a very good man, was an emotional but amicable separation. Luis on the other hand was losing his husband to a drug addiction. Luis had been supporting both of them as a Registered Nurse since his husband lost his job and became addicted. They shared a house and many years of happiness together making the demise very painful and difficult to let go of.
One night a fight ensued and Luis had to call the police for protection. In an attempt to save his beloved from himself he informed the police about the drugs in the house. Helping the police search the house for the drugs that were killing Ron, Luis thought he was doing the right thing. His husband Ron was arrested once the drugs were found.
Weeks later was charged with possession. He was in the house at the time of the incident and had removed the drugs from a safe to keep them away from his husband. Ron was so upset he began to beat Luis to get them back. Luis was knocked down and Ron was able to take his beloved addiction back. The DA decided that Luis had ‘possessed’ the drugs during that time and charged him accordingly. Luis went through the trial process sure his innocence would prevail. The jury was not one of his peers as there were no gay, latino, young, or immigrant people as part of the jury. The DA explained the ‘letter of the law’ was that even momentary ‘control’ over the drugs was a violation. The guilty verdict came from the jury. The judge decided since Luis had done treatment to prove had did not have a drug habit, and was an upstanding member of our community the only sanctions would be a bench probation.
I was driving to work weeks after things seemed ‘settled’ and I got a text from Luis: ‘Ron is Dead’. My phone rang instantly, and Luis was crying hysterically. He was devastated. He never wished death for his estranged lover. Luis was told Ron died alone in their house. The guilt Luis felt was overwhelming. As a registered nurse he was haunted with the idea he may have been able to save him if he was there. The fact he had to leave due to the his lovers drug use was tearing him apart.
The drug issues came over a two year period before Ron’s death. Luis put together a picture show of their relationship for the funeral. I had only met Ron once before. The man I saw, in the pictures that spanned their 8 year relationship, was handsome and smiling and happy. This could not have been the same person I met. The man I met near the end of his life was thin, gaunt and withered. He looked old and tired. Obviously the drugs had destroyed the man Luis loved for so many years. Luis is now a widow.
Chapter 3: The Visit
It has been almost a week since Luis was taken. I missed two days of work and have been distracted even when I am there. It is 3:15am. I just woke up because I can’t sleep well without Luis. I need to leave soon to make the 300 mile journey to visit Luis at the detention center where ICE is keeping him. I had to setup accounts so I can talk to him on the phone and another one so I can email him. It is expensive just to keep in touch. This is my first opportunity to see him since the day he was taken. I’m going to take him food and personal items he has ben asking for.
I am now the NWDC. The drive up here was very difficult. It was emotional. I miss him so much. I don't know if it was harder to see between the tears or the raindrops as I drove up to this morning on a rainy cold November Sunday in the Pacific Northwest.
I was listening to NPR as I drove and there was a radio program that was talking about immigrants. One girl who was brought up from Mexico City as a baby. She is the oldest and her younger siblings were all born here. President Obama signed legislation that gave her the ability to lead her live in the same way as her younger siblings. The reporter asked her how she felt about the possibility of the new administration taking that away and she broke down in tears. She could be deported to a place she has never seen before. Her whole family is here and she knows no other life. This reminds me of my situation and I was so emotional I had to pull over.
There are a lot of stories at the ICE NorthWest Detention Center. I am in the waiting area to see Luis. The place is filled with mothers, sisters, and children. Kids are crying as they come out from visiting. The humanity is overwhelming to me. I do understand why we need to give ICE such power because there are terrorists and really bad people out there, but applying these tactics to families with basic violations does not seem right. Some people should be here, and some people should not. The process for us to incarcerate people while we sort out the good from the bad is one that definitely needs to be improved because we are hurting families. ICE is tearing people apart emotionally and financially.
When I get to see him, I have to talk to him through glass via intercom. I can’t touch him. I miss his beautiful face. I want to hold him and tell him it will be ok but that is not allowed. The food, his rosary and the personal hygiene items I brought were not allowed. I was happy to be able to see his face and to hear his voice clearly. (The paid phone system when he calls me sounds terrible.) We spend the hour we were allowed talking about getting him back home, how much we loved each other and how amazingly supportive our friends have been. It was all over too soon. They called him away and now I have to face a long lonely drive back home.
There is a young couple giving out food to the families and praying or those that want that. Their efforts are selfless and inspiring. I was stunned to see what they were doing for strangers and inspired to do more for others myself.
Chapter 4: The Ripple Effect
Luis’ situation affects all those that he has touched. The ways it has affected me are evident in the preceding pages and far more extensive than I have revealed. I depend on Luis as a boyfriend, partner, lover, roommate, and even a nurse. He helps me in so many ways: rent, companionship, being touched, and being loved. The though of having to exist without him makes me yell out spontaneously in frustration and sadness. It is impossible for me to hold back tears I tell his story. Luis is my soulmate. I have never had someone understand me like he does. I have a mass in my lungs and I depend on him for help negotiating health care and getting my prescriptions. He is very organized. Something he reminds me is important for a nurse to be. My work has been affected. Customers, co-workers have all felt my pain and had to deal with my absence.
Luis has elderly patients to care for. He is in charge of an entire floor of a care facility that handles patients that can not care for themselves. He has other nurses, and CNAs (Certified Nurse’s Assistant) that depend on his presence and skills. Caring for those that can not care for themselves is something I have always admired about Luis. He has a impressive understanding, patience, and tolerance to helping people that are not always capable of showing gratitude. “I’m doing the right thing for them.” he would tell me as I questioned how he was able to tolerate an ungrateful patient’s situation. Luis would tell me “Not everyone is capable of showing gratitude. Does that mean they don’t deserve the help?”
Luis’ family and friends are affected by his absence. Emotions run deep with his mother, father, and sisters. Some of which are here in United States and others are in Venezuela. I am the closest one to the situation so I find myself the hub of communication, which shows me how much they love Luis. They are terrified and trying to raise money to help secure his release.
When one person is taken it is not just one person that suffers. No man is an island. We make many suffer when we hurt someone. This is true of so many things. I can tell you I am a better person after having so many show me what it really means to care.
Posted by Sean Brendan Sexton
Posted by Sean Brendan Sexton
Luis and I would like to thank everyone that help us free him from ICE. Please come to our favorite spot CRUSH BAR to celebrate with us. Our journey continues, but you helped us get past the first obstacle. All are welcome. We are grateful for your help and would like to celebrate in person with you.
Invitations are being sent via Facebook. If you have not reviewed one but want to attend, Please contact Sean Brandan Sexton via Facebook.
Posted by Sean Brendan Sexton
Happy New year 2017
Luis and Sean
Posted by Sean Brendan Sexton
This is a good time for miracles! Enjoy your holiday, rest up, and build your strength!
So very happy to see he's home now, but we will continue to pray for a great resolution to this nightmare.
Any clue what range the bail will be set for?