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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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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.

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.

Twitter Chat & National Call

RiseUp! NQAPIA Week of Action on Immigration

Twitter Chat

Saturday, 4/18
4-5 p.m. EDT/1-2 p.m. PDT

 Twitter Chat

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 communications@nqapia.org for more information.

National Call was on Monday, April 13th 

A mp3 of the recording will be available asap.

For information please email pabitra_benajamin@nqapia.org

Speakers included:

Kris Hayashi
Transgender Law Center (TLC)
Sarath Suong
Providence Youth Student Movement (PrYSM)
Sasha W.
National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA)

Fact Sheet: Detention

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.

Detention CenterNQAPIA 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. 

Resources

NQAPIA Info-graph

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

detention_infographic_edited_low

#Not1More Campaign: Nicoll Hernandez-Polanco

#Not1More #FreeNicoll “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.

Other Resources

Community Conversations

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.

Sample Questions

  1. If you watch a video or share a story, ask people how they feel with what they saw or heard.
  2. 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.
  3. 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?
  4. How does immigration detention and/or the prison industrial complex impact your community?
  5. 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

Immigration Corner

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.

Read more from the National Immigration Law Center: Texas v. US District Court and Asian Americans Advancing Justice Coalition: Immigration relief after Texas v. United States.

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 pabitra_benjamin@nqapia.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 also released factsheets to help you better understand President Obama’s Executive Order including the expanded DACA and DAPA. Factsheets are in English, Chinese, and Hindi.

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 pabitra_benjamin@nqapia.org.

Get updates at our Immigration Corner.

NQAPIA Celebrates AAPI Heritage Month- Washington, DC Style

caption: George Takei, with Greg Cendana from the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance and NQAPIA’s own Ben de Guzman

May, as Asian American/ Pacific Islander Heritage Month, is celebrated in Washington, DC every year with a series of events that highlight the best and brightest in the community. High end receptions, smart discussions of cutting edge issues, and rubbing elbows with leaders and celebrities from around the country is par for the course.

This year, LGBT communities are playing a key role in much of the festivities. The White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders kickoff on Tuesday, May 6, included swearing in of the new members of the President’s Advisory Commission of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, including openly LGBT commissioners Michael Byun and actor Maulik Pancholy.  Hector Vargas served as an openly LGBT Commissioner since 2011 and stepped down as his service completed. Vice President Joe Biden addressed the audience at the Department of the Interior, as did a panel of leaders, including Pancholy as well as AAPI LGBT rockstar Helen Zia.

The Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies celebrated it’s 20th anniversary at their Gala later that night. The legendary George Takei gave a keynote address, and straight allies Paul Song, head of the Courage Campaign, and his wife, media personality Lisa Ling.

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caption: NQAPIA friends at APAICS Gala from L-R- Shivana Jorawar (NAPAWF/ KhushDC, Ben de Guzman, Ben Chou (AQUADC), and Bruce Thao (Shades of Yellow)

While it’s easy to have the glitz and glamour distract our attention, the last week or so has also been highlighted by significant news on the policy front that will have real benefits for our communities. On April 29, the Department of Education issued guidance clarifying protections for transgender students under Title IX. This week, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Attorney General Eric Holder announced guidance that will keep the schoolhouse doors open for students regardless of immigration status.

At a roundtable with Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, NQAPIA and other AAPI leaders brought community concerns to the highest levels of the government. Next week, NQAPIA will be leading a delegation of queer AAPI advocates from around the country to another roundtable with the Department of Homeland Security and to meetings with Congressional offices. Keep an eye out for the latest from NQAPIA at these events via Facebook and Twitter.

It’s important to recognize heritage and celebrate progress we’ve made, but we know it’s also important that policy victories that make real change are what we fight for and make the celebrations all the sweeter.

White House: Inside and Outside

This week, Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander (AAPI) LGBT people spent a lot of time engaging the White House on a range of issues. On Thursday April 24, the White House honored the most recent round of “Champions of Change,” recognizing AAPI advocates who worked to improve access to health care in our communities. NQAPIA was on hand as Bruce Thao, who is an Advisor for Shades of Yellow, was recognized as a Champion of Change for his work at Hmong National Development.

WHChamps 24April2014

caption: Shades of Yellow’s own Bruce Thao at the White House (second from the right)

 

Later that afternoon, the White House continued to recognize another set of individuals from the community as it named fourteen new members of the Advisory Commission for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Among the fourteen were openly LGBT people like Michael Byun from ASIA Ohio, one of the major direct service agencies for AAPIs in the Midwest, and the actor Maulik Pancholy. They will undoubtedly build on the work their predecessor Hector Vargas from the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association.

On April 25, dozens of immigrants’ rights activists converged on the White House on the outside this time, calling on the President and the Department of Homeland Security to designate “temporary protected status” for Philippine nationals in the aftermath of Hurricane Haiyan.  The rally included people from the Relief 2 Recovery coalition, the #Not1More campaign, the National Domestic Workers Alliance, and the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA). NQAPIA Co-Director Ben de Guzman addressed the crowd on behalf of NCAPA, saying “We know that relief means relief for gay and straight alike!”

NQAPIA continues to work on immigration issues and will be bringing a number of local partners back to Washington, DC to continue to bring AAPI LGBT perspectives to bear with representatives from the White House in May as part of Asian American/ Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Keep an eye out for the latest we’ve got going on via our blog, on Facebook, or Twitter.