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.
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.
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.
RiseUp! NQAPIA Week of Action on Immigration
4-5 p.m. EDT/1-2 p.m. PDT
Join us for a twitter chat during our Week of Action on issues impacting LGBT AAPI immigrants & our allies, including profiling, detention, deportation, DACA/DAPA, the executive action, and more.
Tweet under #RiseUpNQAPIA to join in!
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
National Call was on Monday, April 13th
A mp3 of the recording will be available asap.
For information please email email@example.com
Transgender Law Center (TLC)
Providence Youth Student Movement (PrYSM)
National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA)
End Immigration Detention for Vulnerable People
Violations of immigration laws are a civil violation, and those in violation are detained in detention facilities as non-criminals. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is responsible for immigrant detention facility, though over 67% of people detained are housed in county prisons, city prisons, and private facilities. Many in detention facilities face poor conditions and have no due process rights. Many undocumented and documented people in detention centers have been in the U.S. for years.
Under the November 2014 Executive Order on immigration, DHS issued a memo emphasizing the discretion DHS enforcement agencies have in detaining individuals. Under this memo, vulnerable communities should be considered for alternatives to detention. Yet, LGBTQI individuals, families, survivors of torture, asylum seekers, pregnant women, victims of human trafficking, and other vulnerable people continue to be detained.
NQAPIA is especially concerned with trans* folks who continue to be marginalized and made especially vulnerable in immigration detention centers. Most centers continue to house individuals according to sex, making violence and abuse a daily reality for trans* folks. Some centers see solitary confinement as a way to protect individuals, but in reality, such treatment subjects them to inhumane mental and emotional conditions. Cells designated specifically for trans* folks are still very far in between, forcing individuals to be detained far from their families and support systems. We must stop to the expansion of detention centers, and end detention for vulnerable communities, including the LGBT community.
#Not1More Campaign: Nicoll Hernandez-Polanco
“Nicoll Hernandez-Polanco (A# 089 841 646), a transgender woman from Guatemala, is currently being detained in the all-male wing of ICE’s Florence Service Processing Detention facility in Florence, Arizona. Nicoll came to the United States seeking asylum in October 2014 because she was the target of violent attacks, constant harassment, and discrimination in her country of origin. Unfortunately, at the hands of ICE, Nicoll is now being subjected to the same treatment she seeks protection from.
In her first month in detention, Nicoll was patted down 6-8 times a day by male guards, who Nicoll reported would grope her breasts and buttocks, make offensive sexual comments and gestures, and sometimes pull her hair. In addition to physically harassing Nicoll, ICE staff routinely verbally abuse her. She has been called “stupid,” and “the woman with balls” in front of other detained immigrants.”
Read more about Nicoll’s case.
Sign the petition to demand her release.
- Detention Watch Network
- Dignity Denied: LGBT Immigrants in US Immigration Detention by Center for American Progress
- Why Did the US Lock Up These Women With Men? A Fusion Investigation
Many Southeast Asians, Pacific Islanders, South Asians, and Asians are targeted and caught in immigration detention facilities that are a part of the prison industrial complex. We do not have many stories or data of AAPI communities in immigration detention, but we know there are community members in the system. It is important for our queer AAPI communities to discuss these issues, so we can support all people unfairly detained and uncover stories of our community members in immigration detention facilities.
Start your discussion with stories, cases, videos, and reports from our resources section. Humanize the reality of LGBTQI folks in detention.
- If you watch a video or share a story, ask people how they feel with what they saw or heard.
- Have people been in or heard of those who have been in immigration detention centers? If so, have people share whatever they feel comfortable sharing.
- Have you heard of the prison industrial complex? What does this term mean to you? Do you agree that it exists? Why or why not?
- How does immigration detention and/or the prison industrial complex impact your community?
- What can be done locally to fight the prison industrial complex including immigration detention?
Sign the Petition to End Immigration Detention Here.
Download the NQAPIA End Immigration Detention Fact Sheet
Written by: Janani Bala
On the eve of Trans Day of Remembrance (TDOR) and marking the day of uplift for #TransLivesMatter, we continue to have a great deal to mourn. Every 32 hours a trans woman is reported murdered. 2013 was a record year for violence against LGBTQ people, with a 29% increase over the year previous. 53% of LGBT homicide victims were trans women. Proximity to transphobic and homophobic violence is determined by race, class, gender, geography, etc—89% of LGBT homicide victims are people of color. We can’t separate our understanding of gender liberation from racial and economic justice. Some of the worst sites of anti-trans violence continue to be prisons, detention centers, and police encounters.
Trans people seeking asylum for gender-based violence, for example, are frequently detained and face continued rates of gender and sexual violence within detention centers. Rates of sexual assault in detention are 15 times higher for queer people than their heterosexual counterparts. Trans people, especially trans women, face additional violences in detention including in immigration detention: misgendering, lack of appropriate healthcare access, and anti-trans harassment and violence.
As immigrant and/or diasporic people, our take on trans work is not just about respecting pronouns. It’s about reclaiming models of trans-ness/gender self-determination that have been erased—through war, colonialism, genocide—from our ancestry and archives. We have to bring our communities with us. It’s about a trans politics that holds non-English speakers and ways of giving voice to gender justice in our original tongues. It’s about trans politics that centers undocumented people, incarcerated people, detained people, deported people. It’s about acknowledging that not all of us have access to spaces or capital to express our genders and bodies, about valuing both visibility and invisibility. It means that when Filipin@ and queer/trans activists demand #JusticeForJennifer (Jennifer Laude), trans woman murdered by a US soldier in the Phillipines, it is a move towards both demilitarization and deescalation of gender-based violence. Violence against trans people escalates under militarism, under police, under prison culture—those systems actually necessitate gender policing and therefore anti-trans violence.
We can’t continue to view trans justice as only a matter of honoring our dead, however. How can we support trans activists who are doing the constant work of manifesting gender justice now? Our comrades need both our resources and energy. Here are some steps you can take immediately:
2. If you have the means available to you, consider giving to a fund for grassroots trans-led organizing.
A message from NQAPIA: Join NQAPIA, GABRIELA USA and API Equality-Northern California for #transwk in raising visibility of AAPI Trans communities. Share your stories of empowerment and honor those we’ve lost.
- If we are committed to trans life, we must be committed to ending military and police violence #Justice4Jennifer #TransLivesMatter #TDOR
- 89% of LGBT hate violence victims are POC. Anti-queer violence is racialized. #TransLivesMatter #TDOR
- Trans solidarity looks like RESOURCING our community, while also honoring our dead. #TransLivesMatter #TDOR
- Jennifer Laude’s life and death is about both trans and anti-colonial justice–the two are linked. #Justice4Jennifer #TDOR
- Jennifer Laude’s death is a product of both militarization and anti-trans violence. Demand justice: bit.ly/justice4jennifer #Justice4Jennifer
(Photo: Jose Antonio Vargas, openly gay undocumented immigrant and founder of DefineAmerican.com, speaks at 2012 NQAPIA Conference)
As the debates around comprehensive immigration reform heat up, the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) seeks to ensure that the real life concerns of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) immigrants are brought to the fore and are part of the discussion.
NQAPIA is seeking queer AAPI immigrants to tell their stories and document them for inclusion in our work talking with policymakers. We are especially seeking individuals who can talk about their experiences, troubles, goals, and ideas for reform with:
– being undocumented
– becoming a U.S. citizen and naturalization
– seeking or renewing their visas (either profession H1B or student F-1)
– petitioning for family members or same-sex partners
– applying for political asylum
– attending school
– domestic abuse or law enforcement misconduct
– racial profiling, detention, or deportation
In 2010, we shared four such stories at our New York LGBT Immigration Forum. In 2013, we’re working with partners all over the country to raise up our voices on these issues. One of the most powerful tools we have are our stories- real life examples of why the broken immigration system needs to be changed and how it uniquely affects us as LGBTQ people and our families.
Can you share your story with us? Do you know someone else who can? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Stories shared by 2/28 will be able to have impact as action heats up in March and April.
Anonymity and confidentiality will be preserved. Stories can be shared under the protection of a lawyer. No personal information will be publically distributed without the person’s consent. We will work with people to make sure they are best prepared to tell their stories in the best possible way.
NQAPIA’s goal is to identify the most pressing issues in immigration reform that will meaningfully improve the lives of LGBTQ AAPI immigrants.
Ben de Guzman, NQAPIA Co-Director
- NQAPIA Statement of Principles of Immigration Reform (English and South Asian Languages): Download .pdf
- NQAPIA Statement of Principles of Immigration Reform (English and East/ Southeast Asian Languages): Download .pdf
- NQAPIA Postcard Campaign: Call for Comprehensive Immigration Reform: Download .pdf
- Huffingtonpost.com Gay Voices Op-Ed: “All LGBT Immigrants Need to be Considered in Immigration Reform”
For more information about LGBT Immigration and our campaign, contact email@example.com
To speak to a lawyer, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
e: info (at) nqapia (dot) org