Immigration

Media Release: Hundreds of LGBTQ APIs & Allies Demand that the DHS #StopProfilingUs

MEDIA RELEASE 
For Immediate Release: Friday, March 8, 2016
For More Information, Contact: Sasha W., Organizing Director, sasha@nqapia.org

Hundreds of LGBTQ APIs and Allies Demand that the
Department of Homeland Security #StopProfilingUs

Washington, DC. Today, the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance delivered a petition with hundreds of signatures from LGBTQ APIs and our allies to Jeh Johnson, the head of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), demanding that DHS create an enforceable guidance that bans legalized profiling.

We have three main demands:

  • DHS, ICE, and all immigration enforcement agencies must define and prohibit profiling based on race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity in border security, national security, and state and local law enforcement.
  • A clear process must address allegations of inappropriate profiling. This process must include profiling by local law enforcement and procedures should be developed with immigrants’ rights advocates.
  • When inappropriate profiling is used in immigration enforcement, any resulting detention or deportation is improper and should be revoked, as is already done in criminal proceedings where wrongfully obtained evidence is suppressed.

In December 2015, NQAPIA staff hand-delivered a letter with over 40 national and local community organizations to DHS Deputy Secretary Mayorkas. We have yet to receive a satisfactory response to our concerns.

You can see the full text of the petition—and add your name—here.

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Media Release: Immigrants’ Rights are LGBT Rights

MEDIA RELEASE 
For Immediate Release: Friday, March 4, 2016
For More Information, Contact: Glenn Magpantay, 917-439-3158, glenn_magpantay@nqapia.org

LGBT Groups File Amicus Brief at U.S. Supreme Court for Immigrants’ Rights
“Immigrants’ Rights are LGBT Rights”

Washington, DC. Today, the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA), with the pro bono assistance of McDermott Will & Emery LLP, filed an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in the case U.S. v Texas. The case challenged President Obama’s Executive Actions on immigration, which expanded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and created a new Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) program.

The programs could help up to 5 million undocumented immigrants, including 400,000 Asians, to be free from deportation and again work authorization. Lower courts suspended the programs. The programs would specifically benefit undocumented immigrants over 30-years-old who entered the United States as minors (expanded DACA) and undocumented parents of citizen and legal permanent resident children (DAPA).

Tony speaking in New York

Standing in front of the New York Supreme Court,
DACA recepient Tony Choi speaks out against US v TX

NQAPIA’s brief informs the U.S. Supreme Court of the special concerns of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Asian Americans, South Asians, Southeast Asians, and Pacific Islanders (API). An estimated 267,000 undocumented immigrants are LGBT, of which a disproportionate share are API.

According to Glenn D. Magpantay, NQAPIA Executive Director, “The Supreme Court is extremely supportive of LGBT people, and we aim to show how immigration laws and policies have a direct impact on the lives of LGBT people.” He continued, “We also lift up the voices of Asian Pacific Islanders to demonstrate the ethnic diversity of undocumented immigrants.”

The brief draws up the Court’s reasoning in Obergefell v. Hodges, where Justice Kennedy ruled that the Constitution protects same-sex couples to legally marry. The brief discusses the human dignity of LGBT people and the protection of children of LGBT parents. Where the Court holds that same-sex marriage protects LGBT families, NQAPIA argues that the expanded DACA and DAPA programs also protect LGBT families. Family is especially strong among Asian Pacific Islanders.

NQAPIA’s brief highlights the stories of LGBT Asian immigrants:

  • Sandra Meetran is a 16-year-old student in Rhode Island. She is a citizen, but when her father was deported to Laos when she was young, it made her coming out much more challenging. Her family would have benefitted from DAPA.
  • Jose Antonio Vargas is a 34-year-old, Pulitzer-prize winning journalist, filmmaker, and media producer. Jose is undocumented and entered the U.S. when he was 12 from the Philippines. Because he is now over 30, he is ineligible to apply for deferred action from deportation, but he could apply for the expanded DACA.
  • Tony Choi is a 24-year-old, gay, Korean undocumented beneficiary of the original DACA program (for those under 30) from New Jersey. In 2010, his options were to live a closeted life taking care of this mother with cancer or return to Korea where his LGBT identity would subject him to harsh hazing for two years in the mandatory military service. He successfully applied for DACA and has helped dozens of other undocumented youth apply for DACA and continued fighting against deportations.

These stories demonstrate how the expanded DACA and DAPA programs protects LGBT APIs from harassment, discrimination and hardship.

The brief shows how the lower court’s suspension of the programs place LGBT families in extremely difficult circumstances. Undocumented LGBT parents and children must (a) return to their home countries where LGBT people are persecuted, jailed, and even sentenced to death, or (b) parents must leave the United States and abandon their children without any or minimal family support. The expanded DACA and DAPA programs allow undocumented LGBT individuals and LGBT individuals with undocumented family members to stay in the U.S. and keep families together.

Joining NQAPIA as co-signers to the brief are variety of LGBT organizations from various regions of the county, various ethnicities, allies, youth, and transgender groups:

Local LGBT Asian/South Asian Organizations 
Asian Pacific Islander Pride of Portland
Gay Asian and Pacific Islander Men of New York
Gay Asian Pacific Alliance – San Francisco hotpot! Philadelphia
Queer Asian Pacific-Islander Alliance (QAPA) Boston
SALGA-NYC
United Territories of Pacific Islanders Alliance (UTOPIA) Seattle

Local Organizations 
API Chaya – Seattle
Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom (BALIF)
Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement – Los Angeles
New York City Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center
Vietnamese American Young Leaders Association (VAYLA) – New Orleans

National LGBT Organizations 
Immigration Equality
National Center for Transgender Equality
National LGBTQ Task Force
PFLAG National
Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE)
Southerners On New Ground (SONG)
The Trevor Project
Transgender Law Center

The filing of the amicus brief follows up on NQAPIA’s National Week of Action on Immigrants’ Rights in April 2015 in a dozen cities and local protests against the US v. Texas lawsuit in New Orleans and New York City.

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DACA Legal Assistance

Although expanded DACA and DAPA are still wrapped up in the court system, you may apply for the original DACA. Legal groups across the nation may provide assistance for free or at a low cost. The specific groups listed here have not been vetted by NQAPIA to be queer friendly. Be sure to seek assistance from trusted clinics, and be aware of scams.

NQAPIA’s Aid

If you need help, fill out our DACA intake form, and NQAPIA will help match you with legal assistance.

City Search

Check out this list of legal groups. The list includes groups in the following cities:

Atlanta, GA • Boston, MA • Chicago, IL • Durham, NC • Houston, TX • Los Angeles, CA • Madison, WI • Minneapolis, MN • New Orleans, LA • New York, NY • Newark, NJ • Oakland, CA • Philadelphia, PA • Portland, OR • Providence, RI • San Diego, CA • San Francisco, CA • San Jose, CA • Seattle, WA • Washington, DC

National Search

If you need a wider search, you can search by state, county, and zip code on the following websites:

Why Queer APIs Want to #EndLGBTQDetention

As queer Asian American Pacific Islander communities who have an investment in abolishing immigration detention and deportation, this has been quite a week. On Monday, Jeb Bush explained that anchor babies are not a Latino phenomenon—but rather an Asian one. Through his comments, Bush again posits Asian Americans as “forever foreigners,” coming to the U.S. to stage a takeover of the country by the simple act of having children. This is an old trope and one that paints Asian Americans as less than full people in this country.

Queer APIs are dehumanized as “forever foreigners,” immigrants who can never become fully part of the U.S. or fully human.

On the same day, Joseph Pemberton admitted to strangling Jennifer Laude, a Filipina transwoman, to death. He used a ‘trans panic’ defense in court, citing his shock at discovering Jennifer was trans* as justification for murdering her. Transwomen of color are routinely targets of harassment, violence, and murder. Last Tuesday, Black Transwomen led a national day of action to say that Black Transwomen’s Lives Matter. For API transwomen like Jennifer Laude, the combination of transphobia and racism is too often deadly.

Queer APIs are dehumanized as transwomen, seen as less than human and then blamed for transphobic violence.

 

#EndTransDetention Transgender women who are locked up are 10 times more likely to be sexually assaulted

Next month, ICE is threatening to move detained immigrant transwomen to Adelanto, a facility known for the abuse and death of its inmates. We can’t pretend that these occurrences aren’t all connected. Asian immigrants are seen as foreigners, not true Americans, not real people in this country. Transwomen are seen as freaks, as deceivers, as less than human. We stand at the intersection of various forms of dehumanization, which allow immigration officials to play dominoes with the lives of detained transwomen.

Queer APIs say #EndLGBTQDetention because we are sick of being dehumanized as “forever foreigners,” as trans deceivers, as immigrants.

We stand with those most marginalized in our communities, and commit ourselves to fighting for liberation, together. Nobody should be in immigration detention, and especially not at Adelanto. As queer APIs, we cannot remain silent as members of our community are subjected to incredible acts of violence by the U.S. state.

That’s why, as NQAPIA, we refuse to be a political stunt and derided as “anchor babies.” We demand that Joseph Pemberton be held accountable for his transphobic and racist murder. We demand that the transfer of transwomen to Adelanto be stopped.

These issues are all connected—and yes, they are killing us.

Immigration Injunction 101: What’s Happened So Far, and What We Are Waiting For Now

The process and language around the injunction blocking the expanded DACA & DAPA programs can get confusing. President Obama announced executive action on immigration in November 2014, but expanded DACA and DAPA have been caught in a legal debate ever since. Here are some fast facts for LGBTQ AAPI folks to stay informed!

Arpaio vs. Obama:

  • Joe Arpaio, our favorite xenophobic & racist sheriff from Arizona (remember S.B. 1070?) immediately filed a court case against the Obama administration. He claimed that the Executive Action would directly harm him because “criminals would not be deported” under the new law.
  • Arpaio lost this challenge.

Texas vs. United States:

  • 26 states filed a lawsuit against the United States, claiming that the Obama administration overstepped their constitutional authority with the Executive Action on November 20th.
  • The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas issued a preliminary injunction, or temporary block, of the expanded DACA & DAPA programs, pending a trial. This is why these programs have not yet opened for applicants.
  • In response the U.S. government asked the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, a higher federal court, for an emergency “stay,” or pause, on the injunction during the appeal process. In other words, the Obama administration asked the court to allow expanded DACA & DAPA to proceed while the lawsuit continues. On May 26th, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the request for a stay. So for now, the new programs are still not running.
  • The U.S. government also appealed the preliminary injunction itself to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, on an expedited basis. A hearing for this appeal will take place on July 10th in New Orleans. This is the next big step in this court case.
  • If the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals rules to uphold the injunction against the Obama Administration, next steps for the U.S. government could include:
    • Asking for a review by all 15 judges on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. (Currently, only 3 judges are hearing this case.)
    • Appeal the decision of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • If the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals strikes down the preliminary injunction , and rules in the Obama administration’s favor, we expect the expanded programs will finally be open for applicants.

As a reminder: the injunction & court cases are only regarding expanded DACA & DAPA. If you qualified for DACA before Executive Action in November, you should still apply! Contact sasha@nqapia.org if you have questions or need support.

Ask President Obama to End Racial and Religious Profiling, Detention, & Deportation!

compassion

The President’s Immigration Action paved a path for administrative relief for many people in our communities. It also created a new set of priorities for immigration enforcement that have resulted in thousands of people being profiled, detained, and deported in a matter of months.

Racial and religious profiling is rampant all over the country, including in immigrant communities. There is little to no accountability of law enforcement. The revised Department of Justice’s guidance on profiling sets a standard but has no accountability measures and exempts the Department of Homeland Security’s enforcement agencies.

Sign the Petition to Demand Accountability!

The Immigration Action states that vulnerable populations should not be prioritized for detention, yet LGBTQ folks continue to be locked away in detention centers where they are harassed and beaten. Trans* folks continue to be housed in centers based on their assigned sex, not gender identity, and put in solitary confinement for their supposed “protection” from others in the detention center.

Sign the Petition to Demand Accountability!

Communities of color, including Cambodians, continue to be fed into the school-to-deportation pipeline. Many from Cambodian communities are locked away and in the process of being deported back to a country from which they took refuge.

Tell President Obama to hold his administration accountable to ending racial and religious profiling, detention, and deportations.

Sign the Petition to Demand Accountability!

bit.ly/end_profiling_detention_deportation

#RiseUpNQAPIA

 

Help us collect petitions!

Download the President Immigration Enforcement Petition PDF, and send them to glenn_magpantay@nqapia.org. Email intern@nqapia.org with any questions.

Infographics on Immigration #RiseUpNQAPIA

 Click on the infographics below to enlarge and download!

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Fact Sheet: Deportation

Stop the Deportation of Our Communities

For the last two decades, the federal government has been pursuing an enforcement-first approach to immigration that prioritizes mandatory detention and deportation. The Obama administration is no exception: President Obama has deported more than 2 million individuals, and this number continues to rise. In November 2014, President Obama announced an Executive Order that expands relief beyond DACA to provide nearly 5 million people administrative relief from deportation. This expansion is being challenged in courts and therefore delayed in launch. Even with this relief, millions of families will be left out and still face separation and deportation. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has intensified raids in immigrant communities, deporting thousands of community members, some of whom qualify for relief.

The impact on Southeast Asian refugee communities is often neglected in this massive deportation machine. In response to this, NQAPIA stands firm to elevate the grassroots work of our Southeast Asian partnersPrYSM, Freedom Inc, and SOYall part of the Southeast Asian Freedom Network (SEAFN), as they launch an international human rights campaign to end US deportations to Cambodia. 2015 marks 40 years since Southeast Asian refugees were displaced by militarism and war and began resettlement in the US. Decades later, people are being deported back to countries they fled or have never stepped foot in.

Timeline

Timeline Chanravy Proeung, National Organizer of SEAFN, stated, “We have been rooted in an intergenerational struggle over the last five decades to keep our families together against unjust forces of US militarism, war, systemic poverty, education inequity, imprisonment, institutionalized racism, discrimination, and deportation. With over 500 Cambodian-American families broken apart since 2002, and over 4000 more awaiting the same fate, our human rights fight today, is deportation.” NQAPIA calls for an end to deportations under the Cambodian Repatriation Act and to all countries until the U.S. implements human and civil rights for all communities.

Resources

NQAPIA Info-graph:

www.nqapia.org/infographics-on-immigration-riseupnqapia/

deportation infographic

Uncovering Our Stories: Linda Khoy

“My parents are from Cambodia and fled to America to escape the genocide that took place in the 80s. They both legally arrived here with my older sister, who was barely one at the time. Lundy was born in a Thai refugee camp during the war. I came into their lives under a year later and my brother soon after. Aside from me being gay, I never knew that I was different from my parents or my sister. I knew they carried with them a card that read “Permanent Resident Alien,” and later we soon discovered that there is a huge difference between being a US citizen and a green card holder. We grew up in a very strict household and my parents did the best they could with raising Asian American children, keeping the Cambodian values while trying to adapt the American way. When Lundy was barely 19 years old, while she was in college and in her experimental phase like most college kids, she made a mistake by carrying a few ecstasy pills for her and her friends. Her honesty that our parents instilled in us changed the course of her future. She is 32 years old now, and due to the lack of judicial discretion that immigrations judges have, her mistake is considered an aggravated felony, which is an automatic ground for deportation if you are not a US citizen to a country she has never set foot in.” Read Linda and Lundy’s story.

Other Resources

Community Conversations

South Asians Demand Immigrant RightsWe want to concentrate our conversation on the deportation of Southeast Asian communities. The following are videos that are strong conversation starters, along with questions to guide your conversation.

Videos

One Love Movement Rally, 2011 Deported Diaspora, 2009 Providence Youth Student Movement, 2003

Questions

  1. Given the example of SEAFN in needing to understand the root causes of deportation in order to build grassroots movement against it… What do you believe are the root causes of deportation in your community?
  2. The criminalization of Southeast Asians in the U.S. pushed our communities into the deportation pipeline. What are other ways that people in your community get trapped into deportation proceedings?
  3. Deportation is part of a larger narrative of forced Southeast Asian migration, beginning with the onset of wars in Southeast Asia. How does militarism and imperialism affect the migration of your communities to the United States?
  4. SEAFN and the movement against Cambodian deportation was started by Southeast Asian queer folks and women. What role do you see queer and trans APIs play in the struggle for just immigration policies?

Sign the Petition to End Deportations Here!

Southeast Asian Freedom Network logo Southeast Asian Freedom Network (SEAFN) is a national collective of Southeast Asian grassroots groups working towards radical and transformational change led by those most impacted by systemic injustice.

 

Download the NQAPIA & SEAFN End Deportation Fact Sheet.