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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LGBTQ Indians Pressure Apple, Google, and Facebook to #ChallengeModi this Weekend on Homophobic Law

[NQAPIA is hosting this statement in support of Queers for Justice in India. For any press inquiries, please contact Tara Gonsalves (press@challengemodi.com).]
Apple Facebook Google

 

LGBTQ Indians Pressure Apple, Google, and Facebook to #ChallengeModi this Weekend on Homophobic Law

LGBTQ Indian Americans and their allies are calling on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Apple CEO Tim Cook, and Google CEO Sundar Pichai to challenge Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to overturn India’s homophobic Victorian-era law when Modi visits Silicon Valley this weekend. A petition asking these CEOs, previously vocal supporters of LGBTQ rights in the United States, to #ChallengeModi on his institutionalized homophobia has gathered nearly one thousand signatures. On the afternoon of Sunday September 27, over one thousand people are expected to protest Modi’s human rights record in San Jose, California.

Facebook, Apple, and Google claim to be LGBTQ-friendly. Cook, a global LGBTQ role model, said he would challenge anti-LGBTQ legislation “wherever it emerges.” Zuckerberg describes Facebook as “a proud supporter of Pride,” and sports a rainbow-colored profile photo. All three companies have challenged DOMA, supported marriage equality, and provided benefits for LGBTQ employees before they were legally mandated to do so.

However, these same CEOs are now turning their backs on LGBTQ Indians, as well as their own LGBTQ employees and allies, by welcoming the controversial Indian politician, previously banned from the United States for complicity with genocide, and now refusing to take a position on Section 377, the homophobic 1860 law imposed on India by British colonizers.

Repressive laws take a toll on individuals. Sundar, a gay Indian man working in Silicon Valley, says that “due to progressive workplace policies in the valley I can be my authentic self at work. Back home in India, in contrast, the specter of 377 looms over me, my friends, and my family. We constantly fear the threat of harassment, blackmail and extortion. I hope that Silicon Valley stands up for the rights of their Indian LGBTQ employees and that PM Modi takes a stand to end the Victorian-era British law that criminalizes tens of millions of LGBTQ Indians.”

“India’s Penal Code 377 provides an avenue for harassment, extortion, and abuse of LGBTQ Indians,” says Monica Davis, Queer South Asian activist and former Trikone Chairwoman, the San Francisco Bay Area’s South Asian LGBTQ advocacy group. “If Google, Facebook, and Apple were supportive of LGBTQ rights during San Francisco Pride, they should also demonstrate support now.” Adds Suhas, Outreach Director at Trikone, “I would like to appeal to Prime Minister Modi to follow Nepal’s footsteps in including LGBTQ rights in the constitution.”

When human rights violators come to visit, we call on the CEOs of Apple, Google, and Facebook, who wield enormous influence in the global political economy, to take a stand for global LGBTQ rights. To sign the petition, visit www.ChallengeModi.com.

#No377 #ChallengeModi

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NQAPIA Supports Justice in Madison

BREAKING NEWS: Yesterday, NQAPIA’s new Organizing Director Sasha W. was locked in front of the Dane County Jail in Madison, WI for 3 hours and 50 minutes. NQAPIA stands with Sasha, with the others at yesterday’s action, and with the Young Gifted & Black (YGB) Coalition organizing in Madison.

Those locked to the jail doors at yesterday’s demonstration are demanding an end to Madison’s racial disparities. The action was catalyzed by yet another non-indictment of a white police officer killing an unarmed Black person – 19-year-old Tony Robinson. Madison has shown yet again that the city is not accountable to its Black residents.

Madison, WI is ranked as the worst city for Black children. Black people are 11x more likely to be arrested in Madison than white people. If this injustice system cannot even indict a police officer who shot a youth seven times, this system is not fit to try or convict any Black person. Those locked in yesterday demanded the release of 350 Black people incarcerated for crimes of poverty, as an immediate addressal of state violence towards Black communities.

Yesterday, Sasha and others in solidarity with YGB put their bodies on the line to end state violence towards Black communities. As a national federation of LGBTQ API organizations, we know that we will not be fully free until Black people are free. We stand with Sasha, with our local organization Freedom Inc., and with the Young Gifted & Black Coalition.

Madison needs to know that the world is watching, now. Share this blog post for our collective freedom, as Black and API liberation are bound together!

NQAPIA Stands with Baltimore

As the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, we stand with the Baltimore Uprising and Black organizers in the city. The nation is reeling from yet another killing of an unarmed Black person—this time in police custody. We refuse to condemn the “violence” of protesters without first condemning the state violence that created this situation—by the police, by government officials, by consistent disinvestment in West Baltimore.

baltimore

Photo via Washington Post (4/29/15) Win McNamee/Getty Images

As queer APIs, we recognize our privilege and our deeply personal investment in this fight. Our communities are diverse. We experience varying degrees of privilege and of profiling, of uneasy trust and deep-seated fear of the police. We join this fight as allies who understand that our liberation is tied with yours.

We commit ourselves to being part of the fight for racial justice, and the struggle for Black lives to truly matter in this country. We commit to being queer APIs4BlackLives in our own cities. We commit to bringing this work home, to challenging the anti-Blackness in our own organizations, communities, and families. We commit ourselves to this work for the long haul.

For today, Baltimore, know that we stand with you. We will continue to stand with you until we see #JusticeforFreddieGray and an end to police brutality across the country.

NQAPIA & NCAPA Opposes the Anti-LGBTQ Bias in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act

NQAPIANCAPA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 2, 2015

CONTACT:

Mini Timmaraju (NCAPA), mini@ncapaonline.org, (832) 452-7038;

Glenn D. Magpantay (NQAPIA), glenn_magpantay@nqapia.org, (917) 439-3158

 

The National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA) today opposes the anti-LGBTQ bias in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act passed by the Indiana State Legislature last week. While Indiana Governor Mike Pence enacted “fixes” to the law, NCAPA believes these measures are not sufficient in prohibiting discrimination in the name of religious liberty.

“While RFRA laws are vital, especially in protecting the religious expression of minority faith communities, NCAPA strongly opposes legislation that purports to protect religious freedom but in fact sanctions discrimination against the LGBT community,” said Gregory Cendana, the first openly gay Chair of NCAPA and Executive Director of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance.  “The fixes that were made in Indiana and Arkansas’ laws do not adequately protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals from discriminatory practices. NCAPA recognizes the importance of RFRA laws for many religious minorities, especially within Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, and we are willing to work with lawmakers in Indiana, Arkansas, and across the nation to craft more responsible RFRA legislation.”

“The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) is undeterred and stands firmly against Indiana’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).  We still fear that the law could allow employers, landlords, and business owners to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Asian Americans, South Asians, Southeast Asians and Pacific Islanders on religious grounds,” said Glenn D. Magpantay, NQAPIA Executive Director.  “As long as they don’t ask, victims can’t tell. It’s still discrimination.” NQAPIA is a member organization of NCAPA.

On March 26, Indiana lawmakers passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a law that uses the guise of religious freedom to allow business owners to refuse goods and services to customers who they perceive as LGBT. Passage of the law sparked national debate, and resulted in many businesses and organizations rejecting the measure as regressive and discriminatory. On Thursday, Indiana lawmakers passed new legislation in an attempt to clarify that the RFRA cannot be used to support anti-LGBT discrimination.

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson refused to sign a similar RFRA bill on Wednesday, which also included provisions that would potentially permit businesses to deny service to LGBT customers. On April 2, he signed into law a bill that is similar in nature to the 1993-passed federal RFRA law, which does not address discrimination at all.

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The National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA), founded in 1996, is a coalition of 34 national Asian Pacific American organizations. Based in Washington D.C., NCAPA serves to represent the interests of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AA & NHPI) communities and to provide a national voice on policy issues and priorities.

The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) is a federation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) organizations.  We seek to build the organizational capacity of local LGBT AAPI groups, develop leadership, promote visibility, educate our community, enhance grassroots organizing, expand collaborations, and challenge homophobia and racism.

 

NCAPA & NQAPIA RFRA Statement PDF

 

NQAPIA Joins LGBTQ Organizations in Responsding to 2014 DOJ Guidance on Profiling

Today, December 9, NQAPIA joined LGBTQ organizations in responding to the U.S. Department of Justice Guidance on Profiling released on December 8, 2104.

A national coalition of LGBTQ organizations advocating on criminal justice issues including the National LGBTQ Task Force, the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA), National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), the Columbia University Center for Gender and Sexuality Law, Streetwise and Safe (SAS) and the American Civil Liberties Union welcomed yesterday’s announcement of a long awaited update to the 2003 guidance banning racial profiling by federal law enforcement agencies.

The new guidance announced by Attorney General Eric Holder expands the existing ban on racial profiling by federal law enforcement agents to also bar the use of sexual orientation, gender, or gender identity, along with national origin and religion, to any degree in the initiation of law enforcement interactions.

As the nation continues to be rocked by the all too often deadly effects of profiling and discriminatory policing practices illustrated by the killings of Mike Brown, Eric Gardner, Tanesha Edwards, Aura Rosser, and so many others, LGBTQ organizations welcomed this historic move to recognize and redress police profiling of all members of communities of color, including women and LGBTQ people of color. From federal investigations in New Orleans and Puerto Rico, to research by LGBTQ organizations including Lambda Legal, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National LGBTQ Task Force, to the voices of communities with whom we work on the ground, it is clear that police profiling of LGBTQ people – particularly people of color – is an everyday occurrence. The expansion of protections against profiling by federal law enforcement agencies based on sexual orientation, gender, and gender identity is both an historic and critical step toward remedying these injustices.

However, the revised guidance includes broad exceptions that dampen the effect of these important protections. The carve-outs for Customs and Border Patrol, Transportation Security Administration, and certain anti-terror investigations are simply unacceptable. Racial profiling is not an investigative technique—it is discrimination, period.We urge the Administration to expand these protections to reach all federal and federally funded law enforcement activities, including and especially those which target Muslim communities and take place at our borders, which until all too recently were closed to LGBTQ immigrants. LGBTQ migrants continue to face significant barriers to entry and profiling and discriminatory policing by CBP and TSA agents, and Muslim LGBTQ people are among those targeted by unacceptable profiling practices pursued in the name of “national security.”

Additionally, while setting an important example for law enforcement agencies across the country, the guidance is neither mandatory nor does it apply to most state and local law enforcement activities. The Guidance also doesn’t include clear accountability measures beyond internal investigations, which do not allow for transparency or independent accountability. As a result, the guidance will not address the majority of profiling faced by LGBTQ people.

Accordingly, the undersigned organizations, consistent with the recommendations made in A Roadmap for Change: Federal Policy Recommendations to Address the Criminalization of LGBT People and People Living with HIV, urge state and local law enforcement agencies to adopt similarly expansive profiling bans without exceptions, and law enforcement agencies at all levels to mandate and effectively enforce them.

Finally, we urge Congress to take action to pass an expanded version of the End Racial Profiling Act which includes protections from profiling based on gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation in order to ensure that the federal ban against profiling becomes the law of the land, and offer effective protections to all people affected by police profiling.

Signed,

American Civil Liberties Union

Audre Lorde Project

The Center for Constitutional Rights

The Equity Project

Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement

Immigration Equality

National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE)

National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP)

National Immigrant Justice Center

National LGBTQ Task Force

National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA)

Providence Youth Student Movement (PrYSM)

Southerners on New Ground (SONG)

Streetwise and Safe (SAS)

Transgender Law Center

NQAPIA Statement on Grand Jury Decision Regarding the Shooting of Michael Brown

NQAPIA stands in solidarity with the family of Michael Brown and all those who protest injustice.  As LGBT Asian Americans, South Asians, Southeast Asians, and Pacific Islanders, we know too well the pains of those who suffer under unbridled police misconduct and other law enforcement officials. We stand arm in arm with the community of Ferguson to demand justice for Mike Brown. Black lives matter and we do not accept the decision of the Grand Jury.

Violence perpetrated by state actors in the streets of Ferguson, at immigration detention center, or at the border must be curtailed and the safety and security of all people of color–African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans — and especially young people, immigrants, people of transgender experiences must be safeguarded. Law enforcement agencies must be held accountable to the communities they swore to serve and protect.

The Grand Jury’s refusal to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting of Michael Brown is a statement by our Justice System that if you wear a badge, you do no not have to be accountable to the same laws as the people in this nation. It is a statement that black lives don’t matter and that American judicial system will continue to use two different water fountains: One for those who wear the badge and another for “colored” people.

NQAPIA calls on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the Ferguson Police Department for systematic civil rights violations. We also call on the U.S. Department of Justice to issue guidance on racial and religious profiling to provide safeguard our communities from state actors.

NQAPIA calls on our queer Asian community to rise up and protest injustice; to stand in solidarity with the people of Ferguson. Join protests around the nation to demand justice for Mike Brown.

#MikeBrown #BlackLivesMatter #Solidarity

QUEER ASIANS REVEL IN VICTORY BUT WILL CONTINUE TO FIGHT

Breaking News: President Obama Announces Action on Immigration; Queer Asians respond

For Immediate Release: November 21, 2014
Media  Contacts:
Pabitra Benjamin, NQAPIA Organizing Director
202-805-5405, pabitra_benjamin@nqapia.org.
Roberta sklar 917-704-6358
(For Interview opportunities)

QUEER ASIANS REVEL IN VICTORY BUT WILL CONTINUE TO FIGHT

 The President’s action is a great step forward but the devil, and our dignity, are often in the details.” – Pabitra Benjamin, NQAPIA   

On Thursday Nov 20, President Obama, in an historic announcement of Executive Action regarding immigration reform, talked about how immigrants came to the United States to contribute to American’s successes. “At the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance we know that LGBT immigrants, whether they are on a visa or undocumented, also contribute to the LGBT community’s successes. The LGBT community is strengthened because of LGBT immigrants,” said Aya Tasaki, an immigrant, law student, and NQAPIA Board Member.

NQAPIA applauds the President’s actions,” said Pabitra Benjamin, NQAPIA Organizing Director.  “It will grant administrative relief to millions of undocumented immigrants.  The President’s action will have tremendous impact on the lives of so many LGBT Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islanders through the expanded Deferred Action (DACA) Program; visas for workers in the Sciences, Technology, Engineering, and Math; and change in those prioritized for deportation.   We know that so many LGBT AAPIs who are here on worker visas, entered as childhood arrivals, will benefit from these actions.”

The elimination of Secure Communities, where local police are given the power to enforce complicated immigration laws, will curb some of the state violence that so many immigrants experience and fear. However, the continued focus on enforcement through the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP), increase in border security and renewed focus on ‘terrorism’ will still allow law enforcement agencies to cast a broad dragnet in criminalizing and profiling our communities.

We were also dismayed that the President did not include the parents of Dreamers for relief, create a new non-familial category for LGBT immigration, access to healthcare for undocumented immigrants or address alternatives for transgender people in detention.

LGBT AAPIs across the country worked incredibly hard for the past several years to urge Congress to enact a comprehensive immigration reform bill and the President to take bold administrative action.   We collected thousands of postcards, made hundreds of phone calls, met with lawmakers, and had demonstrations across the country.  The President’s actions do not address every one of our issues but its a major step in the right direction.

These changes, within the limits of executive power are temporary and do not provide a path to citizenship.  Now is the time for the Congress to turn away from partisan politicking, and focus on humane legislation that will give us true comprehensive Immigration reform. Over the coming months, NQAPIA will work with the administration through implementation and to address these issues for the LGBT AAPI community. We’ll continue to press Congress to enact permanent, inclusive, and comprehensive immigration reform.  For NQAPIA, no one can be left behind in reform.

“The devil, and our dignity, are often in the details,”  Benjamin concluded.

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The National Queer Asian Pacific IslanderAlliance (NQAPIA) is a federation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander (AAPI)organizations.  We seek to build the organizational capacity of local LGBT AAPIgroups, develop leadership, promote visibility, educate our community, enhance grassroots organizing, expand collaborations, and challenge homophobia and racism.