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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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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.

Marking the day of uplift: #TransLivesMatter

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:

1. Sign this petition in solidarity with Jennifer Laude

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.

Sample Tweets:

  • 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

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