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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.

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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.

Tell Cyberbullies: #LaterHaters

In the last 20 years, bullying—using greater strength or power to enforce one’s will on another—has moved from the playground to the Internet. Instead of physical strength and power, “cyberbullying” employs anonymity and emotional abuse to intimidate and threaten.

This pernicious and growing problem can occur over any form of electronic communications and via a variety of platforms. Computers, cell phones, gaming consoles, Twitter, Facebook—all can be used by children to terrorize and coerce peers and classmates.

With 34% of middle schoolers reporting they have experienced cyberbullying, it is essential that students, parents, teachers, and law enforcement have the tools needed to keep kids safe from bullying online.

LGBTQ a Focus of Cyberbullying

Those who are “different” are often the target of cyberbullying. This is especially the case for the LGBTQ community—and even more especially for LGBTQ individuals of color. Nearly half (49%) of LGBTQ students have experienced cyberbullying, and 55% of LGBTQ students do not feel safe at school because of their sexual orientation.

The mixture of racism and homophobia—and other biases—is particularly toxic. Like LGBTQ individuals of all non-white races and ethnicities, Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) students can and are targeted more often for cyberbullying not only because of their sexual identity, but also because of their racial and ethnic heritage.

Especially now, when hate and vigilantism are so pervasive—both online and off—LGBTQ AAPI youth need to be able to effectively manage and protect their digital identities and have strategies at their fingertips to effectively counteract cyberbullying.

Personal Information Management Tools

A good place to start are phone and Internet provider personal information management apps, such as AT&T’s Digital You, which helps Web denizens of all ages protect their privacy and stay safe online.

Created in partnership with Common Sense Media, Digital You provides tutorials and resources on everything from reputation management, oversharing, and digital parenting to senior safety, privacy and security, and cyberbullying. Parents, caregivers, kids, and teachers can all use these resources to lessen the impact of cyberbullying.

Another way to use technology to fight against cyberbullying is engaging with the #laterhaters campaign, which not only provides tools and advice on how to deal with cyberbullying, but also gives victims a community to back them up.

LGBTQ AAPI Youth—Get Help When You Need It

Are you an LGBTQ AAPI youth who has experienced cyberbullying because of your race, sexuality, and/or your gender identity? If so, we encourage you to use the tools and information linked to above to help fight back, stay safe online, and involve a trusted grown-up when necessary. You don’t have to go through this alone.

If you have questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us at any time.

NQAPIA Blasts Trump’s Executive Order on Immigration

MEDIA RELEASE for January 26, 2017
Contact: Sasha W., NQAPIA Organizing Director, 909-343-2219, sasha@nqapia.org

NQAPIA Blasts Trump’s Executive Order on Immigration

The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance blasted Mr. Trump’s executive orders calling them “detrimental to the interest of the American public—immigrants and citizens alike,” according to Glenn D. Magpantay, NQAPIA’s Executive Director.

Yesterday, Mr. Trump authorized spending U.S. tax dollars on building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, notwithstanding that net migration from Mexico has decreased over the last 10 years. He decreed the creation of more detention centers, 5,000 additional border patrol agents, and a reinstatement of 287(g) that requires local police enforcement of complicated federal immigration laws. His orders threaten to cut all federal funding from sanctuary cities and to reinstate Secure Communities, a deportation program that was discontinued due to ineffectiveness and increased distrust among immigrant communities.

Today, NQAPIA is anticipating that Mr. Trump will fulfill his campaign promise of implementing a Muslim ban. For 30 days, individuals from Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Iraq, and Iran will be banned from entering the U.S., simply because they live in Muslim-majority countries. Individuals from these countries will be unable to receive visas, even if they are already approved, intend to seek asylum, or have family members in the U.S. For 120 days, no refugees from these same countries will be allowed to enter the U.S. The only exception will be refugees who are religious minorities in their countries—in other words, refugees who are not Muslim.

Sasha W., NQAPIA’s Organizing Director, said, “Building a wall, constructing detention centers, and banning Muslims does not make us safer. Instead, these executive actions demonize and criminalize our communities. Trump campaigned on Islamophobia, xenophobia, racism, anti-LGBT bigotry, misogyny, and ableism—not facts or policy. Our communities have already faced significant backlash during his campaign; now, the hate violence is solidifying into federal policy.”

In NQAPIA’s #RedefineSecurity Week of Action, during the beginning stages of Mr. Trump’s campaign, NQAPIA lifted up the stories of institutional Islamophobic and xenophobic hate violence against our LGBTQ API communities. We told the stories of an Indian transwoman harassed by immigration officials; a Pakistani traveler being invasively examined by TSA, in her body and belongings; a queer South Asian organizer whose home was raided; and a Bangladeshi traveler who has been on the “no-fly list” since she was a child.

Last year, in the midst of this national uptick in hate and vigilante violence, NQAPIA submitted a model guidance to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), urging DHS to adopt protections against profiling on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, national origin, and religion. Instead, Mr. Trump is doing the opposite—he is choosing to embolden the white nationalist, Islamophobic, and xenophobic elements of his campaign.

Sasha W. concluded, “Mr. Trump is continuing to enact policies that simply do not work and that make our communities feel more unsafe in this country.”

If you want to take action against these policies, get trained with us! Sign up for NQAPIA’s direct action organizing series (in Los Angeles, Oakland, Seattle, DC, Philadelphia, New York City, and Chicago) at bit.ly/datrainings.

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#NoBanNoWall #RedefineSecurity #NotOurPresident

Fact Sheet: Racial Profiling

End the use of racial and religious profiling

Our communities have been the targets of profiling by law enforcement based on various dimensions and intersections of our social identities. Under the immigration enforcement regime, South Asian, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and Southeast Asian communities have continued to be especially vulnerable, being subject to unjust profiling based on race, religion, and national origin—real and perceived.

DHS logoThe Department of Justice Guidance for Federal Law Enforcement Agencies Regarding the Use of Race, Ethnicity, Gender, National Origin, Religion, Sexual Orientation, or Gender Identity is an attempt at a guideline for federal law enforcement agencies to curtail rampant profiling. Citing the routine reason of protecting national and border security, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Transportation Security Administration (TSA), among several others, are exempt from these guidelines. This exemption continues to give license to some of the most egregious, profile-based policing in our country, including the targeting of our community as perceived “terrorists” and “gang members.” This deprives already vulnerable communities of their civil liberties, and opens the doors to massive detention and deportation.

Many Muslim communities also face profiling within the immigration visa processing. Individuals are profiled by their last names and country of origin and put through extra screening and interviews, resulting in backlogs in the immigration system. There is no space for compromise; we need clear policies that hold all agencies accountable for their unconstitutional profiling practices and demand action on all complaints of improper profiling in the immigration system. There is no space for compromise; end racial and religious profiling for all communities. Close the loopholes in the  DOJ Guidance for Federal Law Enforcement Agencies Regarding the Use of Race, Ethnicity, Gender, National Origin, Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity that allow DHS, CBP, and TSA to continue profiling.

What is Racial Profiling?

Racial profiling is when police or government agents use race, ethnicity, national origin, or religion to decide whom to stop, question, or arrest. Racial profiling is humiliating, harmful, and makes us less safe. Here are some of the ways racial profiling is used today:

  • CriminalizationWar on Drugs: For the past 40 years, Black, Latino, and Southeast Asian people have been targeted by police under the “War on Drugs,” even though studies consistently show that white people are just as likely (or more likely) to use and sell drugs.
  • War on Terror: Since September 11, 2001, members of Arab, Muslim, and South Asian communities have increasingly been searched, interrogated, detained, and deported by Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and local police in the name of “national security.”
  • Criminalizing Immigrants: Members of immigrant communities are targeted by police under the guise of immigration enforcement. State laws like Arizona’s SB1070 and collaborations between Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) and local police encourage racial profiling.

RESOURCES

Uncovering Our Stories: Maya Jafer

Maya Jafer“I was born and raised in the south of India in Madurai, Tamil Nadu with my parents, older brother and younger sister. I was born into a very religious Muslim family. My parents gave me the name Mohammed Gulam Hussain though now, as a post-operative transsexual female, I am Maya Jafer. My journey to the US began in 2000, at the age of 30, when I moved to Seattle on an F-1 student visa to complete my second doctorate in Natural Medicine. The past decade has been a tremendous struggle for me. Though I entered this country legally, I faced intense discrimination as a Muslim in the post-9/11 world. My last name—Hussain—did not help, and I often dealt with interrogations concerning my perceived (and false) association with Saddam Hussein. I often wished for stronger protections against this profiling and discrimination in immigration and law enforcement.”

Read Maya’s story at www.nqapia.org/uncovering-our-stories-maya-jafer

Other Resources

Community Conversations

#blacklivesmatterQueer Asian, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander communities face forms of profiling. However, at this time with the horrendous police killings of Black people in the US, it is important to focus on how Black lives are targeted by the police. We must work in solidarity as AAPI communities to support Black communities.

All over the country, numerous trans* folks of color have also been profiled and killed by police officers; increased community raids in immigrant communities profile “undocumented” and so called “dangerous” immigrants; and Islamophobia has heighted hate crimes with profiling of South Asian and Muslim community members.

Take advantage of the Week of Action to connect the issues and focus on the impact of profiling in your area. We recommend you start by sharing stories, watching a film, or talking about current cases in your community. Use the resources provided in this factsheet or videos in the “Other Resources” section to start a dialogue, and use the questions below to guide your discussion.

Sample Questions

  1. If you watch a video or share a story, ask people how they feel with what they saw or heard.
  2. What are your personal experiences with racial and/or religious profiling? Have you been profiled or witnessed profiling? How did it make you feel?
  3. Through media and social media the world has witnessed the killing of Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Tony Robinson and countless others who have lost their lives to police profiling and brutality. How has your community reacted to the loss of these innocent lives?
  4. Does colorism/racism in our Asian (American) communities impact the systematic use of racial profiling by police officers? If so, how? If not, why not?
  5. What experiences does the community-at-large have with profiling? How does this impact your queer AAPI community?
  6. Does profiling fit into the larger system of detention and/or deportation of people of color? If so, how? If not, why not?
  7. What are some solutions to racial and religious profiling in your community?
  8. Are there ways you can act locally to stop racial and religious profiling in your community? How can you support current efforts?

Sign the Petition to End Racial and Religious Profiling HERE!

Download the NQAPIA End Racial Profiling Fact Sheet.