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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.

NQAPIA in Solidarity with LGBT Immigration Action at White House

September 10, 2014- Many of our friends in the LGBT movement gathered at the White House yesterday to raise their voices in disappointment over President Obama’s recent announcement that he will wait until after the November midterm elections before issuing executive action on immigration. While we know that the ongoing intransigence of the House of Representative’s leadership has brought us to this stalemate, President Obama has prioritized political expediency over doing the right thing by the 11 million undocumented and their families.

NQAPIA stands in solidarity with the organizations including Immigration Equality, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, GetEqual, Freedom to Marry, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, United We Dream, League of United Latin American Citizens that are taking to the streets, to Pennsylvania Avenue, and to Capitol Hill. We too have taken to the streets, to the House of Representatives, and to the White House in recent actions to call for immigration reform that provides relief for LGBT immigrants. In recent weeks, we have joined Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific lslander (AAPI) and other immigrant community advocates in escalating action on the White House and the Congress.

Ben de Guzman at 9.4.14 AAPI Press Conference

Ben de Guzman at 9.4.14 AAPI Press Conference

NQAPIA joins AAPI and Immigrant Rights Fight for Families March

NQAPIA joins AAPI and Immigrant Rights Fight for Families March

One of these actions marked a particular moment in the LGBT and AAPI communities on Thursday, Septmeber 4 as Ben de Guzman, NQAPIA Co-Director for Programs delivered 2,776 postcards to Gautam Raghavan from the White House Office of Public Engagement, calling for immigration reform. This hand-off signaled one of the last public actions for both men, as both Ben and Gautam announced their stepping down from NQAPIA and the White House respectively. NQAPIA is proud of Ben’s service and is also sad to see Gautam go, after working with him as the White House’s liaison to both the AAPI and LGBT communities for a number of years.

NQAPIA delivers 2,700 postcards on immigration to the White House

NQAPIA delivers 2,700 postcards on immigration to the White House

While these two public servants step off this stage with our best wishes, NQAPIA will continue to fight for immigrants’ rights. As Ben noted at a press conference last week, “This is not about politics, this is about people’s lives.”

Washington, DC Special Screening of “Documented” and Q&A featuring filmmaker Jose Antonio Vargas- June 1, 2014

We are pleased to present a special screening of Jose Antonio Vargas’ film, “Documented” during its opening weekend in the nation’s capital.

 

Tickets are general admission- we STRONGLY encourage people to buy tickets online in advance here.

 

For the Sunday June 1 5pm showing, Jose will be on hand for a Q&A panel with leaders of local and national LGBT, Filipino American, and Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) organizations. Further information is below. Please note: you MUST buy a ticket for general admission to see the film as you would normally in order to stay afterwards for the Q&A. The venue is a small, independent theater, so seats will go quickly. We encourage people to come early and stay late!

 

Information for “Documented” Screening

Sunday, June 1, 5pm
West End Theater
2301 M Street, NW
5:00 PM Showing

Q&A Panel Featuring Local and National Advocates

Jose Antonio Vargas, Filmmaker and founder, Define American 
Mara Keisling, Executive Director, National Center for Transgender Equality
Marita Etcubanez, Former Co-chair, Kaya: Filipino Americans for Progress- DC Chapter
Ben de Guzman, Co-Director for Programs, National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance 

Co-Sponsors

National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA)
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
National Center for Transgender Equality
Kaya: Filipino Americans for Progress – DC Chapter
Asian Pacific Islander Queers United for Action (AQUA-DC)
Asian Pacific Islander Queer Sisters (APIQS)
KhushDC: South Asian LGBT Organization in Washington, DC

 

Check our our Facebook page here.

NQAPIA Media Release: LGBT Asian Americans Join Broader Immigrant Rights Movement in Ongoing Action

Caption:  (L-R) Pabitra Benjamin (NQAPIA), DJ Yoon (NAKASEC), Ben de Guzman (NQAPIA), Diana Bui (NAPAWF-DC), Dong Yoon Kim (NAKASEC), Becky Belcore (Korean Resource and Cultural Center, Chicago, IL), Emily Kessel (NAKASEC), Deepak Bhargava (Center for Community Change, Washington, DC)

LGBT Asian Americans Join Broader Immigrant Rights Movement In Ongoing Action

NQAPIA mobilizes solidarity fasters around the country and connects AAPI and LGBT issues around immigration

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Contact:

Ben de Guzman

E-mail: ben_deguzman@nqapia.org;

Phone:  202-422-4909

 

Washington, DC- The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) committed this week to continue to fight for immigrants rights in Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities.  Today, NQAPIA joins our partners and allies in Washington, DC to call on our lawmakers to do the right thing and pass immigration reform.  This action comes on the heels of a week that has seen NQAPIA staff, board, and volunteers in Washington, DC, Chicago, IL, and San Francisco, CA take part in the Fast for Families campaign.  Over the course of this past week and heading into the holidays, NQAPIA will continue to put our bodies on the line to fight for justice for immigrants and our families.

Last Friday in Washington, DC, NQAPIA Co-Director for Programs Ben de Guzman kicked off the NQAPIA solidarity fast and joined national leaders including DJ Yoon, the Executive Director of the National Korean American Service and Education Consortium (NAKASEC).  NQAPIA and NAKASEC have been key partners in fighting for immigration reform with the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA).

“NQAPIA is proud to join #Fast4Families and we salute the bravery of our friend and colleague DJ Yoon, who as one of the original #Fast4Families fasters along with Eliseo Medina and Christian Alvarez, sacrificed for 22 days for immigration reform.  As I indicated at the evening vigil when I broke my fast, LGBT people know what it means to love in the face of adversity and we are with you in solidarity.”

“NAKASEC fights for immigrants’ rights shoulder to shoulder with NQAPIA,” said DJ Yoon.  “We know that all immigrants and their families face challenges because of the broken immigration system and that LGBT people in our communities also face an additional set of barriers.  Our fight for justice is for ALL people and can leave no one behind.”

NQAPIA’s ongoing campaign for immigrants’ rights will continue to build off of our successes in 2013, which include:

Ben and DJ Yoon

NQAPIA Co-Director for Programs Ben de Guzman and NAKASEC Executive Director DJ Yoon at #Fast4Families Tent in Washington, DC

  • Delivering over 5,400 postcards to the Senate and the House of Representatives from constituents around the country calling for immigration reform;
  • Forums in Chicago, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, and San Francisco raising awareness about LGBT AAPI communities and the impact of immigration reform;
  • “Uncovering Our Stories” multimedia campaign that brings powerful voices from over a dozen LGBT AAPI immigrants and family members directly affected by the broken immigration system in video, online narratives, and a written publication;
  • Direct mobilization of over 100 volunteers for grassroots public education efforts in Washington, DC, Portland, OR, Twin Cities, MN, Central New Jersey, suburbran Virginia, Staten Island, NY, Portland, OR, and Honolulu, HI

Intern Blog: Immigration Is Also Our Issue

By Steven

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to observe a panel on immigration reform that featured Jose Antonio Vargas. I attended the event with two of my friends, both of whom are also AAPI interns in D.C. this summer. At one point during the panel, the moderator framed the current immigration bill as a civil rights movement for Latinos. When he said that, all three of us cringed. I heard stories of undocumented AAPI experiences that belong to a Pakistani child who immigrated for facilities that treat cancer, a Chinese immigrant who overstayed her visa because her father’s rash prevented everyone in their family from being fingerprinted, and more. This issue affects our communities on multiple levels. It’s an AAPI issue that attacks the way our different communities honor family and challenges our claim to being American.

Read more

NQAPIA Op-Ed on LGBT Undocumented

NQAPIA Co-Director Ben de Guzman attended the launch of a report by the Center for American Progress and the Williams Institute on LGBT undocumented immigrants.  Some of the key findings of “Living in Dual Shadows” include:

  • 267,000 LGBT undocumented immigrants
  • LGBT undocumented immigrants are more likely to be Asian (15% of the LGBT undocumented population v. 11% of the entire undocumented population) and young (49% under 30 among LGBT undocumented population v. 30% among entire LGBT undocumented population)
  • 32,000 binational couples

NQAPIA’s op-ed on the report’s findings were published in Huffingtonpost’s “Gay Voices” section.  It is included in its entirety below:

“Immigrants Living in Dual Shadows, LGBT Undocumented,” just released by the Center for American Progress and the Williams Institute, is quite an eye opener. The National Queer Asian Pacific Island Alliance (NQAPIA) commends them on this cutting-edge report.

The current debate in Washington and across the country around comprehensive immigration reform requires the engagement of everyone, including the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. This important research finally gives us an opportunity to put real numbers behind the work we do — to push for a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, for improvements to the system for high-skilled and low-wage workers, to reuniting families — including LGBT families, to easing the restrictions to applying for asylum, and for a more humane system for enforcement of immigration laws.

Some of the key findings reveal that the actual number of LGBT undocumented people in the U.S. are disproportionately younger and Asian than the overall undocumented population. The percentage of Asian, LGBT undocumented immigrants is significantly larger than that of our straight counterparts. We are 15 percent of the LGBT undocumented immigrant population, as opposed to 11 percent of all undocumented immigrants. This is a critical sign that we need to increase our efforts to raise our voices for reform in our local communities and in Washington.

Oversimplified categorizations stereotype the concerns communities have around immigration. Latinos do not just care about a path to citizenship. Asians do not just care about more family visas and high-tech workers. And, the LGBT community is fighting for reforms broader than only those affecting bi-national couples.

We all have a stake in truly comprehensive immigration reform that works for all our families — LGBT and straight, undocumented and citizen. Through NQAPIA’s “Uncovering Our Stories” campaign, and the thousands of postcards we are collecting that call for reform, we will be lifting up even more information from our communities about the true impact of the broken immigration system and the need for real reform.

Join us! Get involved!

Uncovering Our Stories: LGBT Asian/ South Asian/ Southeast Asian/ Pacific Islander Immigrants Speak OUT on Immigration

(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 nqapia@gmail.com 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.

 

Thank you,

Ben de Guzman, NQAPIA Co-Director

 

NQAPIA Resources

All LGBT Immigrants Need to be Considered in Immigration Reform

Jose Antonio Vargas and plenary panel at Creating Change (video starts after 40:00)

Jose Antonio Vargas and plenary panel at Creating Change (panel starts after 40:00)

For Immediate Release:  January 29, 2013

 

Contact:

Ben de Guzman

NQAPIA Co-Director for Programs

Phone:  202-422-4909

E-mail:  ben_deguzman@nqapia.org

 

This week, the debate on comprehensive immigration reform took real shape with the Senate introducing a bipartisan framework on principles on Monday, and the President making a statement on Tuesday.

The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) commends the Senate and the President on taking this initial first, bipartisan step.  Immigrants’ rights and the need for comprehensive immigration reform is a top priority for Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander (AAPI) lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) immigrant communities.

Of course, we will continue to work more closely as details emerge and legislation is introduced.  While there are some questions we have about what has been put forth thus far, we recognize that there are some important building blocks in the Senate’s and the President’s proposals.  We’re committed to working on them to support legislation that will benefit not only the AAPI LGBT communities we work with, but will, on balance, move towards a more comprehensive solution for the entire country.

The inclusion of a path to citizenship and relief for the over 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country is a key component of both proposals.  We estimate that 750,000 of those undocumented immigrants are LGBT, and we call for reform that will help ALL of them. Young undocumented activists who worked on the DREAM Act and who are queer have, by making the connection between coming out of the closet and out of the shadows, changed the political landscape, are also included, is encouraging.  The AAPI immigrant families we work with, both LGBT and straight members alike, can also take heart in the provisions to reduce the family petition backlogs, which both proposals include.

But there are discrepancies between the proposals, and the policies that are of concern to our communities and must be addressed.  Provisions around enforcement and detention must not be onerous on our communities.

One of the main discrepancies between the Senate’s and the President’s proposals directly concerns LGBT families.  The Senate’s framework and the discussion of reforming the family-based immigration system did not include same-sex couples, where the President’s statement, on the other hand, states clearly that it will give “U.S. citizens and lawful residents the ability to seek a visa on the basis of a permanent relationship with a same-sex partner.”   It is clearly one of the more specific instances where the President’s proposal differs from the Senate’s framework.  We will build on that as a starting point to move the conversation forward.  This means that LGBT communities will be a key constituency to weigh in on comprehensive immigration reform, and we call for a broader reform that supports not only same-sex couples but ALL LGBT immigrants who desperately need reform to the currently broken system.

NQAPIA has always centered the unique perspectives and needs of LGBT immigrants in its work on immigrants’ rights and comprehensive immigration reform.  The LGBT Immigration Forums we have done around the country for the last three years has built a solid foundation for the work we now begin.  This past weekend at the 2013 Creating Change Conference in Atlanta, GA, we collected approximately 4,000 postcards calling on the Congress and the President to act on comprehensive immigration reform now.  As the debate moves forward, we are committed to educating and mobilizing our communities on this important issue.  I hope you’ll join us in this important effort.

 

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