Posts

Report Profiling

To report/file a complaint about your own experiences with racial or religious profiling, check out the resources below.

#RedefineSecurity: Sasha, 26 (NQAPIA)

Sasha“The last time I flew to New York City, I was stopped by TSA, which is a regular occurrence. This time though, for reasons I can’t explain, I was led away from the security checkpoint and into a room: a tiny storage closet with blocked out windows.

The only sign in the room was a piece of paper saying that any kind of recording is prohibited. I was trying and failing to stay calm, alone with two TSA agents in a tiny space where nobody could see inside. I felt like anything could happen to me, and nobody would know.

In the end, nothing out of the ordinary happened. They thoroughly patted me down just like every other time. I don’t know why they felt the need to take me away from the LAX crowds, into a special room. But I do know that because of my queer, gender non-conforming, South Asian body – I was seen as a threat.

It’s these experiences that lead me to organize in queer and trans* API and South Asian communities, and to organize in solidarity with all Black and brown people, until we all get free.

That is why I believe that we need to #RedefineSecurity and #StopProfilingImmigrants.”

#RedefineSecurity: Sahar Shafqat, 44 (Washington DC)

Sahar Shafqat“When I was on my way to India with Sapna, my wife, we received boarding passes with a quadruple S (SSSS) security code. I had received that code before, so we knew: it’s going to be one of those security experiences. A TSA agent opened up a security line just for us. Each of us needed to go through the security x-ray machine alone, and we could not stand near each other. That was very isolating. I could see my wife, Sapna, being physically checked very thoroughly, and then her belongings checked very thoroughly. This is somebody who is my life partner, who I love, who I’m very protective of. And I watched her privacy and her person being violated, and I was helpless. I couldn’t do anything about it, because in this system, this is the way she’s supposed to be treated.

Then it was my turn. Sapna was clearly very upset, very angry and very shaken. I ask her if she’s okay and shesays yes, but not very convincingly. A female agent starts doing a pat-down on me, but it’s not like a pat-down you’ve ever experienced. It’s very invasive – really being touched in an intimate way. It’s not just about checking your pockets, it’s really going all the way up the inside of your leg to your pelvis. She said “I’m going to take my hand all the way up until I can’t go anymore,” and that’s really what it was. Even my short hair was manually checked with the TSA agent using her gloved hands and fingers, adding to the humiliation.

All of our belongings were assumed to be suspect – it was presumption of guilt, and the burden was on us to prove otherwise. I had a computer that had to be turned on. Every single item was individually checked – forexample, every single credit card inside my wallet was pulled out and manually checked. That was how invasive the check was. For brown and black people in America, our bodies are constructed as dangerous, as almost superhuman. The idea that we are strange beings that can somehow evade the normal screening process is racist. The thought is that I must be hiding some explosives in my computer or in some orifice of mine, just because I’m brown and traveling to Pakistan. That’s where I’m from. And that’s probably what’s got us on the list, because we go frequently. Pakistan is another home for us.

That is why I believe that we need to #RedefineSecurity and #StopProfilingImmigrants.”

#RedefineSecurity: Kevin Lam, 26 (QAPA Boston & NQAPIA)

Kevin Lam“In 2013, as Khmer New Year in Providence, RI was wrapping up, my co-worker was stopped by police.

My co-worker and I were the main transportation for young people we worked with to get home after the event. When I saw that my co-worker had been stopped, I made a u-turn to check-in on her and the youth. As I pulled up, a police officer approached my car. I told him that I wanted to check to see if my co-worker and our young people were okay, and to see if I could at least get some of the youth home since it was late. The police officer told me, “I don’t know who you are,” and demanded that I “get the hell out of here or else…”

After dropping off all the young people in my car, my co-worker called asking me if I could come back because the police were towing her car. They didn’t give her any time to coordinate rides for our young people to get home, so they were left waiting on the side of the street for friends and community members to pick them up to get them home safely.

After everything happened, I felt hopeless, and angry that I couldn’t do anything to help in that moment. Because of my skin color, I know there is a level of privilege and access that I have, and I was able to use that to keep some young people safe from police harassment.

But it still hurts and makes me angry to see that as reasonable and calm as I tried to be with the police, they did not care. They did not care about our young people who we wanted to get home safe, and they didn’t care about leaving people on the side of the street stranded. In the end, we were able to take care of our people and community, while the police did nothing to protect our people and community, or make sure we were safe.

That is why I believe we need to#RedefineSecurity and #StopProfilingImmigrants.”

#RedefineSecurity: Jyoti Chand, 33 (Stop LAPD Spying Coalition)

Jyoti Chand“I am a coordinating team member of Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, an anti-state violence and anti-police spying coalition.

In 2014, my apartment was broken into. My laptop, which I use for my community organizing work, and my paper notes, to document the use of human and electronic surveillance by the police, were stolen. I felt violated in my home, my space safe.

Soon after, a person who befriended me within the coalition space, was invited by me to my home. We went outside of my apartment unit. When she saw a police helicopter, she remarked ‘we should shoot it down.’ It felt as if she were luring me into self incrimination. I trusted my instinct to protect myself and knew I was not safe. Soon after, she disappeared and stopped communicating with our coalition.

Sharing my story empowers me and others in the community to speak up and protect our ourselves from the architecture of state violence, spying, surveillance and infiltration.

Will we sleep or will we fight?”

#RedefineSecurity #StopProfilingImmigrants

#RedefineSecurity: Fa’afetai Alofa

“I remember the moment the undercover cop pulled out his badge and told me I was going to be arrested. I experienced a mix of things; shock, self disgust, disbelief, shame, and an overwhelming numbness.

As a Samoan trans woman, at the age of 23, just a few months after completing my bachelors degree, I was arrested for prostitution.

It wasn’t long until a few other undercover cops made themselves known, and within seconds I was in a van, alone, with 5 cops. As I was checked into the holding facility a male cop was assigned to pat me down. He misgendered me and asked that I remove my bra. This terrified me for so many reasons, but mainly because my bra was such a huge part of what affirmed my femininity for me. Thankfully a female cop noticed I was uncomfortable with that request and told me I could leave it on. As I waited for my sister to bail me out, I sat in a cell for an hour, without anything but four walls, silence, and my self-hating thoughts to keep me company.

Sex workers pose a very low risk to society. We are not murderers, or thieves, or drug dealers, yet police departments dedicate whole sting operations to criminalizing us for trying to survive in a system that forces us into sex work.

We need to #redefinesecurity so the most disenfranchised in society aren’t being targeted by the system. We get enough of that from the people who actually pose a threat to society: the ones who harass trans women of color and follow through with killing us.

Target them.”

#RedefineSecurity #StopProfilingImmigrants

#RedefineSecurity: August Guang, 26 (PRYSM & NQAPIA)

August Guang“I was 19 when the TSA started using full body scanners in 2010. I found myself suddenly under their microscope. Until then I had gone through with relative ease – though my suitcase was often searched because of my mom’s import business – because as an East Asian U.S. citizen I didn’t fit the profile of a terrorist. Now, for some reason I could never pass by their scanners, always being subjected to invasive pat-downs and searches, having officers reach into my pants and up into my shirt and even up into my binder, walking through the same scanner multiple times and holding everyone else up in line.

It wasn’t until I was 21 and on my way to an interview that I realized what was going on. The TSA agent made me walk through the scanner 3 times, as she got more and more confused. She called over another TSA agent, and they were discussing how there must be a bug in the system. She had me walk through it again, and when she asked me to go through it a fifth time I said no, I didn’t get why. At that point she realized what it was – she had been pressing the blue button for Male the whole time.

I identify as gender non-conforming and masculine of center, and was assigned female at birth, so to her I appeared male. The scanner kept signaling about my breasts in two evenly spaced yellow boxes. When she heard my high pitched voice, she started apologizing. I realized that every time I had ever failed the TSA checkpoints was because of arbitrary decisions that TSA agents made about my gender identity and the way body scanners were set up. TSA didn’t keep me safe, it just humiliated me for the last 6 years.

That’s why I believe we need to #RedefineSecurity and #StopProfilingImmigrants.”

#RedefineSecurity: Alina Bee, 26 (Satrang LA)

“Abbu was always frustrated by my shalwared prancing. He said they made me look unprofessional and no one would take me seriously in the world. Much to his chagrin, I’ve just about made a uniform of them and the TSA takes me very seriously.

One particular instance sticks out and it happened to be when the both of us were traveling together. Security at LAX was exceptionally interested in my shalwar and dupatta, despite the body scanner coming back with nothing but intricate sindhi patterns weaved across yards of linen. Maybe that was it, they just wanted to grasp the cultures and stories that lay in the threads.

So after the scanner told them nothing, a TSA agent took it upon herself to dig deeper and proceeded to scrunch and shake my shalwar in hopes that a frayed edge might unravel and they could piece together the puzzle in their minds. When that gave them nothing, they took my dupatta and shook it out. Still nothing. So they reached higher and patted down my hair–which only prickled and frizzed in response.

After exhausting all their attempts to fit me in the picture they had pre-developed, they let me go and I huffed my way to the gate. This experience was nothing remotely close to the scrutiny and intimidation faced by many of my colleagues, friends, family members–but this was a microcosm of the ‘safety’ systems that interrogate and deem our bodies unsafe or threatening.

That is why I believe we need to #RedefineSecurity and #StopProfilingImmigrants.”

Guidance on Profiling – Letter to President Obama and DHS

December 26, 2016

To:
Barack Obama, President of the United States
Jeh Johnson, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security
Felicia Escobar, Special Assistant to the President for Immigration Policy, White House Domestic Policy Council
Manar Waheed, Deputy Policy Director of Immigration, White House Domestic Policy Council

Over the past two years, we have been in communication with this administration about guidance from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to end its reliance on profiling on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, color, religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity as a method of national security and immigration enforcement.

As organizations representing diverse Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ), Asian Pacific Islander (API) and people of color communities, we urge the Department to adopt and issue guidance immediately.

To assist you in developing this guidance, attached is a model language, drafted in typical legal guidance form, developed by the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA). The model language lays out the necessary policy changes to end existing practices of profiling. We ask that you take this guidance under consideration and enact these protections against profiling. We must keep our communities as safe as possible in the years to come.

Some highlights of this guidance include:

  • Examples detailing the inappropriate use of profiling, without exemption for matters concerning border security, national security, or state and local law enforcement.
  • A clear process for addressing allegations of profiling based on race, ethnicity, national origin, color, religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity.
  • A remedy for when inappropriate profiling is used. Resulting detention or deportation should be deemed improper and revoked, as already exists in criminal proceedings where wrongfully obtained evidence is suppressed.

In the final weeks of this administration, this issue is increasingly urgent. We ask that you take action before you leave office.

For further conversation, please contact Sasha W., Organizing Director for the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA): sasha@nqapia.org.

Sincerely,

Sasha W.
Sasha W.
Organizing Director

Signatories:
18MillionRising
API Chaya
Alliance of South Asians Taking Action
API Equality LA
API Equality Northern California
Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund
Asian Americans Advancing Justice
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO
Asian Pacific Islander Queer Society
Asian Queers United for Action
Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations
BiNet USA
Black and Pink
Center for Black Equity
CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers
DRUM – Desis Rising Up & Moving
Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement
Family Equality Council
GALA, Inc.
Gay Asian Pacific Alliance
GetEQUAL
Hotpot! Philly
Juntos
KhushDC
Lambda Legal
MASALA
Muslim American Women’s Policy Forum
NAPAFASA
National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum
National Center for Transgender Equality
National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs
National Council of Asian Pacific Americans
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National Federation of Filipino American Associations
National Immigration Project of the NLG
National LGBTQ Task Force
Network on Religion and Justice
OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates
Providence Youth Student Movement
Satrang
South Asian Americans Leading Together
South Asian Bar Association of North America
Southeast Asia Resource Action Center
Transgender Law Center
Trikone
Trikone NW
U.T.O.P.I.A. Seattle
VAYLA-New Orleans
Washington Peace Center
Witness to Mass Incarceration

Attachment: DHS Guidance by NQAPIA

Against Islamophobia: LGBT & MASA Letter to Administration, Candidates & Policymakers

TO:
Barack Obama, President of the United States
Hillary Clinton, Candidate for President of the United States
Donald Trump, Candidate for President of the United States
Paul Ryan, Speaker of the US House of Representatives
Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader of the US House of Representatives
Mitch McConnell, Majority Leader of the US Senate
Harry Reid, Minority Leader of the US Senate
Jeh Johnson, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security

As organizations representing diverse LGBT communities and Muslim, Arab and South Asian communities, we write to express our deep concern regarding the divisive rhetoric and reactionary public policy objectives that have emerged since the mass shooting in Orlando. Our communities are still in mourning after forty-nine, mostly LGBTQ Latinx lives were lost and dozens more were injured. At the same time, many of our organizations have come together through words and actions to express our unity and solidarity.

At this moment, as we collectively attempt to respond to the massacre in Orlando, it is vital that our political leaders set the right tone and example for the rest of the nation. Unfortunately, in the 48 hours since the tragedy, many political leaders have resorted to divisive and inflammatory rhetoric by characterizing the Orlando massacre as an act of terror, and by calling for policies and actions that would disproportionately target those who are Muslim or come from South Asian and Middle Eastern countries.

We ask that the President, presidential candidates of the Democratic and Republican parties, Congressional leaders, and Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security set the right tone: send strong and frequent public messages about the importance of coming together rather than giving into backlash; refrain from dangerous anti-Muslim sentiment; and resist enacting policies that will harm our communities in the name of national security.

We ask that you affirmatively recognize the homophobia and transphobia that motivated this violence, and refrain from defining the shooting as an act of international terrorism—a term reserved in public discourse for acts committed by Muslims. Instead, we ask that you call it what it is: a hate crime against the LGBT community and an act of gun violence.

Although we recognize the tragic nature of the shooting, and the immense fear the shooter caused, the word “terrorist” becomes the norm only when the shooter is Muslim, or perceived as such. As a result, in the wake of 9/11, we have seen devastating hatred towards Muslim, South Asian and Middle Eastern communities. Those of us who are queer and trans* have been especially vulnerable to violence and backlash. This characterization has resulted in broken noses and bruised bodies. It has blamed and held entire communities responsible for every action associated with those words.

We call on you, our leaders, to remind the public that we must not scapegoat Muslim, South Asian, and Arab communities for the act of one person. Whatever warped justification the shooter may have claimed, his actions are a hate crime. Every religious tradition explicitly condemns the killing of innocent people, but murder knows no faith. We do not want to see our communities live through another surge of harmful policies as a result of the massacre in Orlando. Our LGBT communities will not be used as a justification for Islamophobia, which impacts so many of us.

Alongside dangerous rhetoric, reactionary public policies that trade individual liberties for a façade of security based on fear have led to devastating consequences for Muslim, Arab and South Asian communities in the 15 years since the 9/11 attacks. These communities, and especially our queer and trans* community members, have borne the brunt of laws and policies such as the Patriot Act, special registration or NSEERS, arbitrary interrogations, unlawful watch lists, unprecedented rates of detentions and deportations, inappropriate profiling, and surveillance by federal and local law enforcement authorities of mosques, Muslim student associations, restaurants, and cricket and soccer games.

15 years later, we do not want to live through the “spirit of 9/12” yet again. We call on you to curtail policies such as:

  • The Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program, including intelligence gathering from the Internet and social media, which targets Muslims and has been shown to be ineffective. We are particularly concerned about H.R. 5471, the Countering Terrorist Radicalization Act
  • Expansion of FBI access to a range of revealing and personal details about individuals’ online communications, or Electronic Communications Transactional Records (ECTR)
  • Immigration enforcement that disproportionately profile our communities, such as the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Priority Enforcement Program (PEP)

We ask you to:

  • Roll back existing Countering Violent Extremism programs, especially the “Don’t Be a Puppet” program that asks young people to criminalize each other
  • Issue a guidance from the Department of Homeland Security banning legalized profiling based on race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation and gender identity without exemption, including in national security and immigration enforcement. Community organizations have been in conversation with DHS about this guidance for months, but we have not seen a result
  • Promote common sense legislation to keep guns out of dangerous hands, without further criminalizing Muslims, immigrants, people of color, and people with mental health struggles

We request a meeting with you to further discuss these matters. This is a time when we need our leaders to stand with us to denounce prejudice, violence, and policies that inflict harm on any community. Our strength is our unity. We look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance
Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO (APALA)
Asian Pacific Islander Queer Sacramento Coalition
Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy and Leadership (APPEAL)
Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations
Brown Boi Project
Collaboryst
Emerge USA
Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement
Freedom Inc
GALA, Inc. (Guam)
Gay Asian Pacific Alliance
i2i: Asian Pacific Islander Pride of Chicago
Juntos
KhushDC
KmB: Pro-People Youth
MASALA
Muslim American Women’s Policy Forum
NAPAFASA
National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association
National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum
National CAPACD
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National Korean American Service and Education Consortium
National LGBTQ Task Force
Pride ASIA
PRIDE Marianas
PrYSM
Q-WAVE
Queer Asian Pacific-Islander Alliance
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)
Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC)
Southerners On New Ground (SONG)
Trikone
Trikone NW
Trikone-Chicago
UMD AASU
UTOPIA Seattle
Veterans For Peace
Veterans For Peace, Milwaukee Chapt. 102
Viet Rainbow of Orange County (VROC)
VietLEAD
We Belong Together
Witness to Mass Incarceration
18MillionRising.org