Texas SB4’s Impact on LGBTQ South Asians – Why We Should Care
This past week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld Texas Senate Bill 4 (SB4) one of the most rigorous anti-immigrant laws passed since Donald Trump took office.
Last May, Governor Greg Abbott signed SB4 into law which would allow racial profiling and subject anyone perceived to be an immigrant — in other words, all communities of color — to unlimited questioning about their immigration status, all by local law enforcement officials with little or no training in immigration law. It prevents any city in the state of Texas from becoming a “sanctuary city,” and levies heavy penalties against local officials who push back against federal immigration authorities.
Resistance to the bill was clear and rapid. Just one day after the bill was signed into law, city and county officials in Texas filed a lawsuit to block implementation. The four largest cities in Texas joined the lawsuit. Then, LGBTQ Asian and South Asian community groups in Texas, including KhushATX in Austin, Coalition of Houston Asian Americans, and Dragonflies in Dallas joined the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance to file anamicus brief illustrating the impact of the law on the LGBTQ and Asian American community.
According to the Census, South Asians and Asian Americans make up the fastest-growing immigrant groups in the country — we are the largest percentage of documented and undocumented immigrants coming to the U.S. And, as we know, many of our South Asian immigrant community is also LGBTQ. Nationally there are 267,000 LGBTQ immigrants from Asian countries, that includes various South Asian nations, including nearly 40,000 who are undocumented.
SB4 would subject South Asians and all people of color to profiling, discriminatory stops by police and interrogation about their immigration status. If the law goes into effect, our LGBTQ and South Asian community members will be caught in the crossfire.
As LGBTQ South Asians, we are no strangers to discriminatory policing and racial, ethnic and religious profiling. As queer people of color, SB4’s legalized profiling evokes the history of police raids of LGBT bars — Stonewall, which helped to catalyze the LGBT movement, which was a riot against this queer and transphobic policing. As South Asians, our communities have faced increased Islamophobia and profiling since 9/11, which has skyrocketed. This kind of everyday profiling happens at airports, on public streets, and in our places of work and worship.
As queer and trans South Asians, we must fight back against being profile for “looking” immigrant, trans, queer, Muslim, South Asian, Latinx, Black. KhushATX, with other LGBTQ Asian American groups in Texas and throughout the South, worked with NQAPIA to oppose SB4. We hand-wrote 50 letters to government officials to block the law from taking effect, and we asked them to continue resisting this racist, xenophobic bill.
You can learn about what’s happening with our LGBTQ South Asian immigrant family in Texas. Don’t ignore the struggles and the beautiful resistance of the South. If you are in or have family in Texas, read and share this oped. And stay ready to support our family when we are called — whether it be in the form of a handwritten letter, a phone call, a protest, or a rally — to show up and hold space in solidarity with our LGBTQ immigrant family.