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LGBT Asians/South Asians Urge U.S.  Supreme Court to Strike Down Trump’s  Anti-Muslim Travel Ban

Read the LGBT Amicus Brief at bit.ly/17-956

Tomorrow on April 25, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Donald Trump’s third iteration of his anti-Muslim Travel Ban. The ban, issued by Executive Order, bars people from certain majority Muslim countries from coming to the United States.

LGBT Asian/South Asian groups submitted an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down. The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA), with the pro bono assistance of Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP, spearheaded the brief illustrating the impact of Trump’s travel ban on the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. Brief is here: bit.ly/17-956.

Glenn D. Magpantay, NQAPIA Executive Director and Counsel on the Amicus Brief, said, “Trump’s anti-Muslim travel ban has a direct impact on the lives of LGBT people and tears families apart. The defense relies on some of the cases and legal theories that supported the internment of Japanese Americans.”

He continued, “We’ve been here before. In 1987, President Regan instituted an anti-HIV Travel ban. In 1952, the U.S. Supreme Court banned homosexuals because they were persons of ‘bad moral character.’ In 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act banned Chinese from immigrating to the United States. Let’s never forget. Never again.”

Arguments

The amicus brief details the oppressive conditions for LGBT people living in the countries named in the travel ban, where homosexuality is criminalized and LGBT people are persecuted. The brief explains how Trump’s ban prevents LGBT people in those countries from joining their families and loved ones in the United States, increasing their exposure to persecution in their home countries.

Moreover, the brief argues that the ban deprives U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents of their constitutionally-protected liberty interests in maintaining familial relationships with their loved ones whose safety is jeopardized by their sexual orientation or gender identity. Because the ban’s narrow—and legally required—exceptions lack meaningful rules guaranteeing equal treatment of LGBT visa applicants, Trump’s travel ban disproportionately denies LGBT people the ability to reunite with their loved ones in the United States.

Co-Signers

8 signed-on organizations

Seven (7) LGBTQ South Asian and Asian Pacific Islander organizations across the country join as co-amici to sign on to the brief:

  • API Equality-Los Angeles
  • API Equality-Northern California (APIENC)
  • Invisible to Invincible (i2i): Asian Pacific Islander Pride of Chicago
  • KhushDC
  • Massachusetts Area South Asian Lambda Association (MASALA)
  • Queer South Asian Collective (QSAC)
  • South Asian Lesbian and Gay Association of New York City (SALGA-NYC)
  • Trikone Northwest

In addition to these groups, the NYC Gay & Lesbian Anti Violence Project; Immigration Equality; LGBT bar associations in New York (LeGaL), Chicago (LAGBAC), San Francisco (BALIF), and Los Angeles; and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) in Boston also joined.

Shristi Pant, a member of QSAC in Boston, said, “As an organization for South Asian queer and trans folks, we have a duty to support our Muslim community members, as well as Muslim folks from other areas of the world. This travel ban is just one aspect of the anti-Muslim violence that is being perpetuated in and by the U.S. and one that deeply affects Muslim LGBTQA+ folks in need of refuge from the violence they already face.”

Sammie Ablaza Wills, Director of API Equality-Northern California, commented that, “The anti-Muslim and anti-refugee ban is political fear mongering, directly impacting many in our communities. As LGBTQ Asian and Pacific Islander people, we understand that we cannot accept policies that dehumanize our Muslim and refugee family members. APIENC is dedicated to working towards safety and freedom for our people, and we will fight the Muslim ban at the airports, on the streets, and in the courts.”

Anne Watanabe, i2i core member in Chicago further elaborated, “As Asian Americans, we remember the disgraceful U.S. history of 120,000 Japanese American and Japanese people being forced into detention camps as a result of wartime hysteria filled with racism. We are now seeing this racist history repeat itself against Muslims and other targeted communities.”

Prior Actions

API Equality-LA works in solidarity with LGBTQ Muslims and those affected by racial profiling. In 2017, API Equality-LA took action on 9/11 highlighting the experiences of queer and trans Muslims and South Asians through a vigil hosted at Los Angeles City Hall. Its Indi(visible) Campaign advocates for a holistic approach towards immigration equality that encompasses challenging Islamophobia and the Muslim Ban, defending DACA and undocumented communities, and protecting LGBTQ immigrants, particularly trans immigrants of color.

Last fall, before the Supreme Court was scheduled to hear oral arguments on Trump’s second version of the travel ban, NQAPIA and several of the co-signing groups organized awareness raising actions in seven (7) cities—Austin, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC—protesting the violence, harassment, and profiling that LGBTQ South Asians and Muslims have endured since 9/11.

“For the past two years, on the anniversary of 9/11, KhushDC has participated in and organized direct actions to raise awareness of Islamophobia. These actions bring attention to the increased profiling and discrimination faced by Muslim people in the U.S.,” said Anish Tailor of KhushDC.

The effort, entitled “#QueerAzaadi,” featured community funerals to lift the names of Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim, trans women, African Americans, and undocumented immigrants killed in hate crimes; storytelling speak outs of LGBTQ Muslims and experiences of violence in the last 16 years; and mock checkpoints targeting white people to replicate the profiling that South Asian, Muslim, API, and people of color experience at airports and government buildings. 300 people participated in the actions in seven (7) cities that unveiled the interlocking systems of Islamophobia, Transphobia, Xenophobia, and Anti-Blackness.

Voices of Queer Muslims

NQAPIA has also published the personal stories of LGBT Muslims and South Asians sharing their experiences of policing and profiling in writing at nqapia.org/redefinesecurity-stories and in video at nqapia.org/redefinesecurity-videos.

Historical Timeline

1882 – Anti-Chinese Travel Ban
In 1882, Congress adopted and the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Chinese Exclusion Act, the first piece of federal legislation that singled out a minority group for invidious discrimination and barred their entry. It was not until 1943 that Chinese people could naturalize to become U.S. citizens. The Act was passed after many Chinese people had built the transcontinental railroad which unified the United States East and West.

1952 – Anti-LGBT Travel Ban
From 1952 to 1990, LGBT people were excluded from the U.S. because they were deemed to be of “psychopathic personality.” The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the law and its application to homosexuals. Lower courts further denied the naturalization of LGBT immigrants because they were persons of “bad moral character.”

1987 – Anti-HIV Travel Ban
From 1987 to 2010, President Reagan issued an Executive Order, which President Bush extended, barring people with AIDS or who were HIV+ from entering the United States. Congress then codified the HIV+ exclusion into federal law in 1993. It was not until 2010, under President Obama, when the travel restriction was eliminated.

2017 – Anti-Muslim Travel Ban
Trump issued an executive order preventing people from 6 majority Muslim counties (Syria, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Yemen, and Somalia) and all refugees from entering the United States.

# # #

The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) is a nationwide federation of LGBTQ Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander (API) organizations. We seek to build the organizational capacity of local LGBTQ API groups, develop leadership, and expand collaborations to better challenges anti-LGBT bias and racism.

#NeverAgain nomuslimbanever.com #QueerAzaadi

Not Another Death Threat: Queer and Trans Muslim Realities in America

By Almas Haider

There should be a name for the particular depression of living as a queer trans Muslim of color in America. A specific PTSD of walking the streets in constant fear of being racialized as Muslim and have your gender and sexual orientation questioned. The pleasure of not just having one day a year, September 11th, to expect extra harassment, but surprise holidays like “Punish a Muslim Day.” The joy of calling your mother and father, asking them their plans for the day, and telling them to “be mindful, keep your phone charged, and go home and call me if you don’t feel safe outside today.” Because to be a queer trans Muslim of color in America means to live in a state of anticipation of what hate violence we can expect next.

In the past two years since Trump’s campaign and subsequent election, there has been a surge in anti-immigrant legislation and hate violence. According to a study conducted by South Asians Americans Leading Together (SAALT), from Election Day 2016 to Election Day 2017 there have been “302 incidents of hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric aimed at South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern, and Arab communities in the United States.” 82% of these incidents were motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment, a “45% increase from the year leading up to the 2016 election cycle, levels not seen since the year after September 11th.” [SAALT]

This rapidly escalating level of hate violence was not created in a vacuum. This cycle of violence is directly tied to the racist and xenophobic legislation and systems of the United States. The latest manifestation of this has been the Muslim Travel Ban which will be heard by the Supreme Court on April 25th. The executive order, “bans citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. for 90 days, suspends the entry of all refugees for at least 120 days, and bars Syrian refugees indefinitely,” creating yet another form of institutionalized Islamophobia in the U.S. [ACLU].

In response, on March 26th the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) and seven LGBT South Asian and API groups submitted an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down Donald Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban. The brief showed how the ban has a direct impact on the lives of LGBTQIA people and tears families apart.

This brief is in part a direct response to an attempt to pinkwash the Muslim Travel Ban. Language included in the Ban says it will protect Americans by barring entry to “those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation” [Human Rights First]. This insinuates that people living in Muslim-majority countries are queerphobic and transphobic, a marketing and political tool most infamously being used by Israel to justify Palestinian genocide.

How quintessentially American: the Ban would bar queer and trans immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers from seeking a complicated form of “safety” in the U.S., while claiming that the ban will help keep queer and trans people safe. This will in turn further the narrative of queerphobic and transphobic tyrants reigning in Muslim majority countries, justifying ongoing U.S. imperialism and intervention in the Middle East and creating more refugees. And the amount of physical and verbal violence queer and trans Muslims of color experience within the U.S. will continue to increase.

As the policies of the state become normalized in our everyday lives, the next turn in this cycle of queer, trans, and gendered islamophobia is the increase in hate crimes against our communities. For queer and trans Muslims of color, these attacks target multiple identities that we hold. According to the 2016 FBI Hate Crimes Statistic report, hate crimes against racial and ethnic minorities drastically increased in 2016. 25% of incidents were motivated by anti-Muslim bias alongside 18% anti-queer and anti-trans bias incidents. This makes queer and trans Muslims of color disproportionately likely to be victims. [FBI report]

Through our organizing as queer and trans Muslims, we aim to change that.

For the last two years, on September 11th, we have been crafting actions across the U.S. The purpose of these actions has been to educate, empower, and hold our community who experience the nuances of being profiled as queer Muslims of color. Our actions, drawing inspiration from Black Lives Matter and the movement for Palestinian liberation, have ranged from mock “security” checkpoints to guerilla performance art.

We are questioned and detained not just because of the languages we speak, our ancestral homes, and places of worship and communal gathering, but also because of how we express our gender and sexual identity through our appearance and the political movements we align with. Through these actions we have focused on the ways that Islamophobia and transphobia reinforce each other, how Black Muslims are particularly impacted by queer and gendered islamophobia, and building solidarity internally within our LGBTQIA community.

On the 15th anniversary of September 11th, we spearheaded 20 local organizations to create “checkpoints” in high-traffic areas of Washington, D.C. The Washington Post showed how we aimed to replicate various “checkpoints” and experiences that Muslim Americans and those perceived to be Muslims have to go through every day, including being stopped by the Transportation Security Administration, being verbally and physically harassed in businesses, and routinely called terrorists.

In 2017, after a year of direct and blatant attacks on our communities by the Trump administration, we focused on creating spaces of not only resistance, but also of healing and safety. We named the Muslim Travel Ban and other forms of state violence as the root cause of queerphobic, transphobic, and Islamophobic hate crimes. We drew connections between queerphobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, anti-Blackness, xenophobia. We questioned how we show up for one another. And we committed and successfully created spaces for all of our communities to mourn both the lives and the safety that has been taken from us since the election.

Through this work we as queer and trans Muslims of color have recognized and grown our power in a country that seeks to alienate, imprison, and murder us within and outside its borders. And as we wait in anticipation for the the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Muslim Ban, we begin our plans for an annualized and formal nationwide series of actions on September 11th. We now look to September 11th and every day, not with fear, but with the resolve and strengthened ability to create a different world. And ask our accomplices to be ready to join us.

Almas Haider is the Racial Justice and Immigrants’ Rights Committee Chair of the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance and Community Partnerships Manager at South Asian Americans Leading Together.

You can learn more about and get involved with the work of the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance to combat Islamophobia, transphobia and queerphobia at www.nqapia.org.

OpEd: The Dream Act & the LGBTQ Community: So Much at Stake

OpEd By Glenn D. Magpantay, NQAPIA Executive Director

Take Action: Send an email to Congress

Congress must pass the Dream Act. So much is at stake for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) undocumented young people.

In September, Donald Trump said he would cancel the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program unless Congress passes the Dream Act. President Obama created DACA which has helped thousands of LGBTQ undocumented young people to work, study, and improve their lives in this country, without the fear of deportation. Many of them come from Asian counties.

The Dream Act will preserve DACA and will provide LGBTQ undocumented young people with employment opportunities, educational opportunities, and even a path to citizenship.

Asian Americans, South Asians, Southeast Asians, and Pacific Islanders (APIs) are the fastest growing racial group in the United States today and the largest segment of new immigrants.

Immigration Statistics

169,000 APIs are eligible for DACA. 267,000 undocumented immigrants are LGBT, of which a disproportionate share is API. According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, over 16,000 people from South Korea, the Philippines, India, Pakistan, and China have benefitted from DACA.

Donald Trump’s cancellation of DACA will subject 800,000 potential beneficiaries to again live in fear of deportation. For LGBTQ people, the stakes are even higher unless Congress passes the Dream Act. Thousands of LGBTQ young people could be deported. Many of them to countries where they cannot live their full and authentic LGBTQ lives.

Many counties in Asia and the Pacific prohibit same-sex relations, such as Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and Tonga. In Indonesia, police shaved the heads of trans women and publicly caned a gay couple for having consensual sex. In most Asian and Oceania countries, transgender people cannot legally change their gender-markers on their IDs, and LGBTQ people are not protected by anti-discrimination laws.

Tony Choi is a 24-year-old, gay, Korean DACA beneficiary from New Jersey. In 2010, his options were to live a closeted life taking care of this mother with cancer in the US or return to Korea where his LGBTQ identity would subject him to harsh hazing for two years in the mandatory military service. Korean military penal law also criminalizes homosexuality. Because of DACA he is serving the community.

Bupendra Ram is a South Asian Dreamer from Fiji who came to the United State when he was only 2-years-old. He is the first person in his family to attain a college degree.

Pro-Dream Act ProtestersA broad coalition of civil rights groups, businesses, educational institutions and religious communities support the Dream Act. The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) has been pushing for a clean Dream Act with no enforcement provisions, mobilizing 10,0000 postcards, phone calls, and emails to US Senators and US Representatives.

Congress needs to hear from people NOW more than ever. Send an email to Congress to support a clean Dream Act and call House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader McConnell at 202-225-3121 and demand that they support LGBT undocumented youth by passing a clean Dream Act.

# # #

The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) is a nationwide federation of LGBTQ Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander (API) organizations. We seek to build the organizational capacity of local LGBT API groups, develop leadership, and expand collaborations to better challenge LGBT-bias and racism.

#SaveDACA   bit.ly/savedaca   #CleanDreamAct

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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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)

Infographics on Immigration #RiseUpNQAPIA

 Click on the infographics below to enlarge and download!

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deportation infographic

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Fact Sheet: Deportation

Stop the Deportation of Our Communities

For the last two decades, the federal government has been pursuing an enforcement-first approach to immigration that prioritizes mandatory detention and deportation. The Obama administration is no exception: President Obama has deported more than 2 million individuals, and this number continues to rise. In November 2014, President Obama announced an Executive Order that expands relief beyond DACA to provide nearly 5 million people administrative relief from deportation. This expansion is being challenged in courts and therefore delayed in launch. Even with this relief, millions of families will be left out and still face separation and deportation. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has intensified raids in immigrant communities, deporting thousands of community members, some of whom qualify for relief.

The impact on Southeast Asian refugee communities is often neglected in this massive deportation machine. In response to this, NQAPIA stands firm to elevate the grassroots work of our Southeast Asian partnersPrYSM, Freedom Inc, and SOYall part of the Southeast Asian Freedom Network (SEAFN), as they launch an international human rights campaign to end US deportations to Cambodia. 2015 marks 40 years since Southeast Asian refugees were displaced by militarism and war and began resettlement in the US. Decades later, people are being deported back to countries they fled or have never stepped foot in.

Timeline

Timeline Chanravy Proeung, National Organizer of SEAFN, stated, “We have been rooted in an intergenerational struggle over the last five decades to keep our families together against unjust forces of US militarism, war, systemic poverty, education inequity, imprisonment, institutionalized racism, discrimination, and deportation. With over 500 Cambodian-American families broken apart since 2002, and over 4000 more awaiting the same fate, our human rights fight today, is deportation.” NQAPIA calls for an end to deportations under the Cambodian Repatriation Act and to all countries until the U.S. implements human and civil rights for all communities.

Resources

NQAPIA Info-graph:

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

deportation infographic

Uncovering Our Stories: Linda Khoy

“My parents are from Cambodia and fled to America to escape the genocide that took place in the 80s. They both legally arrived here with my older sister, who was barely one at the time. Lundy was born in a Thai refugee camp during the war. I came into their lives under a year later and my brother soon after. Aside from me being gay, I never knew that I was different from my parents or my sister. I knew they carried with them a card that read “Permanent Resident Alien,” and later we soon discovered that there is a huge difference between being a US citizen and a green card holder. We grew up in a very strict household and my parents did the best they could with raising Asian American children, keeping the Cambodian values while trying to adapt the American way. When Lundy was barely 19 years old, while she was in college and in her experimental phase like most college kids, she made a mistake by carrying a few ecstasy pills for her and her friends. Her honesty that our parents instilled in us changed the course of her future. She is 32 years old now, and due to the lack of judicial discretion that immigrations judges have, her mistake is considered an aggravated felony, which is an automatic ground for deportation if you are not a US citizen to a country she has never set foot in.” Read Linda and Lundy’s story.

Other Resources

Community Conversations

South Asians Demand Immigrant RightsWe want to concentrate our conversation on the deportation of Southeast Asian communities. The following are videos that are strong conversation starters, along with questions to guide your conversation.

Videos

One Love Movement Rally, 2011 Deported Diaspora, 2009 Providence Youth Student Movement, 2003

Questions

  1. Given the example of SEAFN in needing to understand the root causes of deportation in order to build grassroots movement against it… What do you believe are the root causes of deportation in your community?
  2. The criminalization of Southeast Asians in the U.S. pushed our communities into the deportation pipeline. What are other ways that people in your community get trapped into deportation proceedings?
  3. Deportation is part of a larger narrative of forced Southeast Asian migration, beginning with the onset of wars in Southeast Asia. How does militarism and imperialism affect the migration of your communities to the United States?
  4. SEAFN and the movement against Cambodian deportation was started by Southeast Asian queer folks and women. What role do you see queer and trans APIs play in the struggle for just immigration policies?

Sign the Petition to End Deportations Here!

Southeast Asian Freedom Network logo Southeast Asian Freedom Network (SEAFN) is a national collective of Southeast Asian grassroots groups working towards radical and transformational change led by those most impacted by systemic injustice.

 

Download the NQAPIA & SEAFN End Deportation 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.