Luis Garcia-Campos, and his partner Sean Sexton, are still trying to piece their lives back together following Luis’s 35-day detention at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma.
Sadly, the hurdles continue to mount.
Luis and Sean must continue to raise funds for Luis’s legal defense fund as they await his deportation hearing in June. In meantime, Sean became incredibly sick fighting for Luis’s life. They thought Sean had pneumonia, but found out he has lung cancer as a result of his HIV treatment. Sean has never smoked.
“The prognosis is good with treatment, but it means I need to take medical leave from work for seven months for radiology,” said Sean. “Luis lost his job because of the case and new employers are hesitant to hire him with a conviction. We went from having two successful careers to struggling to pay the rent in two months.”
And then there is the fact that Donald Trump has been inaugurated as president, putting a target on the backs of immigrants.
“It’s an incredibly scary time to be an immigrant in the U.S.,” Luis said. “Immigrating to the United States was never particularly easy for someone from Latin America. I am scared. Going back to Venezuela now would not be safe. I am deeply worried about being sent back to a country that is in economic and political turmoil. Where people are being persecuted for their political views and where there is no chance I would get access to my HIV medications.”
Luis also fears he’d be targeted by kidnappers in Venezuela.
“I also would be at risk because there would be a perception that I had wealth having been educated in the United States.” he said. “My sister and her husband were kidnapped a few years ago and forced to pay ransom because his family owns a small chain of convenience stores. It’s a volatile, violent climate with little regard for law.”
Now that both are out of work, paying their $1,100 rent is a struggle. Supporters can help by donating to their Go Fund Me campaign.
Luis posted an $8,000 bond, raised through a Go Fund Me campaign supported by 275 donors. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency opposed Luis’s bail.
A 32-year-old widowed gay man, Luis was taken into custody at his home by ICE on November 15 at 6 a.m. He was denied release by ICE despite his eligibility for bond and/or release in Portland, Oregon.
Luis is a registered nurse. He has legally lived in the U.S. for the past 15 years until he tried to stop his husband, now deceased, from keeping drugs in their house.
Luis made his way to the United States at age 17, recognizing that he would not be safe in Venezuela as an out gay man. Traveling on a tourist visa, he visited family in Florida and then eventually made his way to San Francisco, where he began nursing school and received a student visa to stay in the U.S. He worked his way through college as a server, earned an Associate’s Degree and now is a Registered Nurse. In San Francisco, he met his eventual late husband. They moved to Portland when his late husband’s employer transferred him to its Oregon office. In 2013, they married legally in Washington state.
Marital bliss was short-lived, however, when his late husband became addicted to drugs and eventually lost his job. Luis too began to use, but chose to enroll in drug rehabilitation to get clean. After his rehab, Luis was reconciled to the fact that his relationship likely would not survive.
In March of this year, he returned to their Beaverton home and found his husband high and deteriorating. To save his life, he tried to remove the drugs from their home, but his late husband resisted and beat him. Luis called 9-1-1 and his late husband was arrested for drug possession. Two weeks later, the Washington County District Attorney opted to charge Luis as well, because he technically held the drugs in his hands as he tried to remove them from their home. He was eventually convicted of possession, but given bench probation or unsupervised probation because of his exemplary record.
Luis is appealing the conviction, but in the meantime it’s created havoc in his life.