LGBT Groups File Amicus Brief at U.S. Supreme Court for Immigrants’ Rights
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.
If you need help, fill out our DACA intake form, and NQAPIA will help match you with legal assistance.
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
If you need a wider search, you can search by state, county, and zip code on the following websites:
- American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) will help you find an immigration lawyer by language and location
- The Administrative Relief Resource Center will help you find a free or low-cost nonprofit immigration legal service provider by state and county or by zip code
- The National Immigration Legal Services Directory will list free or low-cost nonprofit immigration legal services by state, zip code, or detention facility
- Immigration Law Help will list free or low-cost nonprofits and private lawyers
- We Own the Dream will find free or low-cost nonprofit immigration legal services
- iAmerica has a directory of nonprofit lawyers searchable by zip code
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 email@example.com if you have questions or need support.
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.
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.
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.
Help us collect petitions!
Download the President Immigration Enforcement Petition PDF, and send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Email email@example.com with any questions.
On February 16, just two days before the expanded DACA was supposed to open, a federal district court in the Southern District of Texas temporarily blocked its implementation. As of March, the district court in Texas still has not ruled on the government’s request for an emergency stay. As a result, the Department of Justice is seeking an emergency stay from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans. As of April, the court has not yet issued its decision, but we need these lawful, common-sense policies implemented as soon as possible.
What does that mean?
The expanded DACA and DAPA programs are temporarily put on hold until the decision is overturned. The federal government is seeking an emergency stay, so people can apply for the expanded DACA and DAPA programs as soon as possible.
Why did this happen?
In December, 26 attorneys generals and governors filed this lawsuit as an anti-immigrant political and PR stunt. They chose to file this in a very conservative area in Texas and with anti-immigrant U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen.
Texas decided that the federal government had not followed the Administrative Procedures Act’s requirements. The federal government did not use those procedures because the initiatives are discretionary—which exempts them from those procedures.
What will be the verdict?
Texas is not following legal precedent. In a public statement, DHS said, “The Department of Justice, legal scholars, immigration experts and even other courts have said that our actions are well within our legal authority.” President Obama has said, “The law is on our side, and history is on our side.”
Read more about potential reactions from other states.
What is the timeline?
We do not know when things will be put off hold, but those who are eligible to apply should continue applying for the original 2012 DACA program and prepare for the expanded DACA program and DAPA program when they do open.
Read more about the stay.
We are expected to hear a ruling from the Fifth Circuit Court any day. At the beginning of July, the courts will hear oral arguments regarding the Department of Justice’s appeal on Judge Hanen’s ruling.
Why does this matter?
There are 11 million undocumented immigrants, and over 1.3 million of them are of Asian descent. There are 4.4 million people waiting in visa backlogs, and 1.6 million of them are in Asia. Nearly 500,000 APIAs may benefit from the expanded DACA and DAPA programs. In all, these programs allow families to stay together and remove fear of deportation.
Read more immigration statistics.
What else is going on?
The Senate tried to defund DACA, DAPA and immigration policy changes dated Nov. 20 or 21, 2014 as well as those made on/after Jan. 9, 2015. Fortunately, Senator Susan Collins’ bill S. 534 failed on procedural vote in the Senate and has been rejected by NCAPA, policy experts, DREAMers, the ACLU, and more.
DHS is funded and will not go through a shutdown. Read more.
Cross Check Arrests and Deportations
From March 1-5, 2015, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) led nationwide raids targeting undocumented immigrants. They arrested 2,059 individuals from 94 countries—majority of the people arrested had misdemeanors. It has been reported that 15 of the people arrested had DACA. Many of those arrested are subject to immediate removal from the US, while others are in ICE custody, awaiting a hearing or pending travel arrangements for removal in the near future. President Obama committed to helping our communities, but the actions of his administration are tearing our families apart. We do not support these operations that promote profiling, detention and deportation of our communities. If you or a community member have been caught in a raid and need support, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read the DHS press release.
What about visa updates?
On April 1, 2015, USCIS will accept H-1B visas for the fiscal year 2016 cap (65,000). The first 20,000 H-1B petitions filed for individuals with a U.S. master’s degree or higher are exempt from the 65,000 cap. We recommend that you file within the first five business days. If they receive an excess of petitions during that time, they will begin to use a lottery system to randomly select who fits within the cap. Those who do not make the cap will automatically be rejected.
As of May 26, 2015, the spouse and children of H-1B visa holders may apply for an H-4 visa. Those with H-4 visas may obtain a driver’s license, pursue education, open a bank account, and may obtain a tax ID for employment purposes.
Read a commendation from NCAPA.
What is NQAPIA’s work on immigration?
You can find out more about NQAPIA’s work on immigration here.
President Obama issued a request for information on the subject of modernizing and streamlining the US visa system. NQAPIA provided feedback in regards to streamlining visa processing for family-sponsored and employment-based immigrant visas, operational changes for visa petitions, how to fully and fairly allocate visas each year, sharing priorities in data collection, and more. We are waiting for a response from USCIS. Check out NQAPIA Comments for Visa Modernization RFI.
We are working to ensure all LGBTQ communities are included in upcoming relief. Tell President Obama, Don’t Discriminate Against LGBTQ Immigrants. Join NQAPIA, Familia Trans Queer Liberation Movement, and other partners in asking President Obama to include LGBTQ immigrants without children in upcoming relief. Sign the petition!
Join us for RISE UP! Week of Action on Immigration. Demand an end to profiling, detention and deportation of our communities.
NQAPIA is regularly involved in advocacy meetings with DHS and the White House, and we react and respond with the needs of our community. If you would like to work with us on immigration or other issues, please contact email@example.com.
Get updates at our Immigration Corner.
NQAPIA Immigration Relief Executive Action Fact Sheet
People can currently apply for the DACA program that was announced on June 15, 2012. The expanded DACA program and DAPA is being delayed by partisan politics. We encourage people to prepare for the new programs. We will email our list as we have more information on the executive order.
President Obama announced several executive actions on immigration that can change the lives of millions of individuals. His announcements came after years, if not decades, of organizing and advocacy from immigrant communities.
NQAPIA commends the President for his actions and so many LGBT people, especially those who are Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, or Pacific Islander will enjoy relief from deportation. Yet, we also urge law-makers to consider those still left behind. Many LGBTs will not benefit if they are not married or have children. Those who got into trouble with the law, no matter the reason or if dues have been paid, are excluded. NQAPIA will press for more comprehensive solutions that include all of our community and we encourage those who qualify to APPLY for current programs.
What is an executive action on immigration?
What does the executive action do, and who qualifies?
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA)
How do I prepare?
Where can I find assistance to apply?
Are there any risks?
Other people who will benefit.
Enforcement of immigration laws.
Where do we go from here?
On June 15, 2012, the President announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. This program allowed certain undocumented individuals to lawfully stay in the U.S. and gain work authorization. Since June 30, 2014, 685,544 people have participated in DACA. The Asian countries with the largest estimated number of youth eligible are South Korean (33,000), Philippine (15,000), China (15,000), India (11,000), and Pakistan.
On November 20, 2014, President Barack Obama announced expansions to the DACA program and a new Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) program. This was done through a series of executive memoranda issued by the Department of Homeland Security. DACA and DAPA will provide temporary relief from deportation for up to 5 million undocumented immigrants.
The programs are not a permanent fix to our broken immigration system, which only Congress can do.
Administered by USCIS, DACA provides temporary relief from deportation for certain people brought to the United States as minors. It allows individuals who qualify to stay in the U.S. and obtain a work permit. DACA is granted on a case-by-case basis and does not provide a path to lawful permanent residence or U.S. citizenship. The DACA program was expanded by the November 20th announcement but the revisions are not yet in place. Check www.uscis.gov for updates.
Eights guidelines to qualify for the DACA program:
- Under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012. The expanded DACA program will eliminate the age ceiling.
- At least 15 years of age at the time of application or in removal proceedings.
- Entered the United States before the age of 16.
- Continuously resided in the United States (U.S.) since June 15, 2007 to the present time. The expanded DACA will change this date to January 1, 2010.
- Physically present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012 and at the time of applying for DACA.
- Had no lawful status on June 15, 2012.
- Either currently in school, graduated from high school, completed a GED or equivalent, or a veteran honorably discharged.
- Not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
In coming months, work visas will be extended from two to three years. Current DACA recipients should check with USCIS about how these changes will impact them. DACA recipients must reapply every two years. Recipients should start the process between 120-150 days before expiration.
Find videos about DACA in Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean and Thai as well as receive legal advice in these languages at Asian American’s Advancing Justice and guides in Bengali, Urdu and Hindi at South Asian Americans Leading Together.
To apply for DACA or renew DACA, visit www.uscis.gov/childhoodarrivals.
Many LGBT young people, who were undocumented, have benefited from the DACA program and have gained legal status and work authorization.
DEFERRED ACTION FOR PARENTAL ACCOUNTABILITY (DAPA)
The Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA), administered by USCIS, provides temporary relief from deportation and work authorization to undocumented parents of U.S. citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs). DAPA lasts for three years and should be ready for application in late May 2015.
- Have a U.S. citizen or LPR son or daughter (by blood or adoption) as of November 20, 2014
- Continuously resided in the United States since before January 1, 2010
- Physically present in the United States on November 20, 2014, and at the time of applying
- Have no lawful immigration status on November 20, 2014
- No criminal convictions (including a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more misdemeanors), no gang involvement or terrorism, not a recent unlawful entrants, and others
- Pass a background check that includes a criminal and immigration background check
Check www.uscis.gov to confirm start dates and the application process.
Now, parents of LGBT people can benefit and gain legal status.
- Save money (at least $465 for the application fee).
- Get proof of identity such as a government-issued passport, birth certificate or ID card.
- Gather proof of relationship to U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR) son or daughter.
- Gather proof of how long you have been in the U.S.
- Gather any criminal records.
- If you have a criminal conviction, check with an attorney to expunge, vacate, or modify this conviction.
- If you have a prior deportation or removal order, check with an attorney.
- Stay informed and know your rights!
For more information go to http://nilc.org/toptenwaystoprep.html.
Fees to apply for DACA and work authorization are currently $465, with limited fee waivers for people in need. USCIS is expected to begin accepting applications for expanded DACA in February 2015 and DAPA in May 2015. Seek advice from trusted legal immigration service provider and be aware of scams.
For clinics who serve API and/or LGBT populations, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Every person who applies for administrative relief must go through a national security and criminal background check. Anyone who qualifies for relief will be entered into a national database, and there will be a simple fine for the unauthorized entry. We encourage people to apply, and be prepared. BE AWARE OF FRAUD. Work with trusted legal immigration service providers. This is temporary relief, and we can work together to change our nation’s immigration laws and create a permanent pathway to citizenship.
EMPLOYMENT AND STUDENT VISAS
President Obama’s executive actions also included proposed changes in the visa programs. Individuals should talk to an immigration lawyer, and check www.uscis.gov for updates.
- Expansion of degree programs eligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT) program, which authorizes foreign students from U.S. schools to gain work experience after graduation. Students in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields will be allowed to work for a longer period in the United States.
- Greater visa portability for employment-based permanent resident status.
- Provide employment authorization (H4 visa) to spouses (including same-sex spouses) of H1B foreign workers who have been approved for a green card.
Several other changes are being proposed, and a task force is working to modernize the visa processing system. Check http://www.dhs.gov/immigration-action for more information.
Many LGBT Asians and South Asians come to the United States on professional worker (H1B) visas or as foreign students (F-1). These changes will extend the time that they can stay in the US and improve their experience with securing a visa.
DHS has discounted the problematic the Secure Communities program as a result of organizing and advocacy around the nation. However, a new Priority Enforcement Program (PEP) focuses on national security, border security, and public safety. Unlike Secure Communities that focused on pre-conviction arrests, PEP prioritizes detention and deportation post-conviction and continues to rely on cooperation with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. DHS programs such 287(g) and Criminal Alien Program still exist. DHS continues to expand the opening of new detention centers including those for families and children. If you need support with immigration enforcement concerns, please contact American Immigration Lawyers Association.
Work permits for foreign students graduating in the Sciences, Technology, Engineering, and Maths (STEM) are expanded for 2.5 years under Optional Practical Training (OPTs). OPT will be expanded to include many more fields of study. A significant number of LGBT students studying in the United States as F-1 student visa holders are from Asian countries. Oftentimes, they come to the US to study, and then they come out. Moreover, the administration is considering an expansion of the fields of study that qualify for OPTS.
This is a step in the right direction, but NQAPIA and our allies will still monitor the programs for the impact on LGBTs.
Administrative relief is a temporary solution. Our community must organize and press Congress for a permanent solution to our broken immigration system. The executive action also excludes community members with criminal convictions and LGBT people who do not have legally recognized partnerships or supportive families. The administrative action allows for profiling of communities under concerns of “national security” or “gang violence” with limited civil liberty protection.
- US Citizenship and Immigration Services: Executive Actions on Immigration
- How To Seek Prosecutorial Discretion from ICE
- Department of Homeland Security: Executive Action Key Facts
- Department of Labor Immigration Fact Sheets
- CRS Report on the President’s Immigration Accountability
- American Immigration Council’s “A Guide to Immigration Accountability Executive Action”
- Asian Americans Advancing Justice Executive Action Resource Page
- National Immigration Law Center
- Administrative Relief Resource Center
Contact us at email@example.com with any questions.
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.
e: info (at) nqapia (dot) org