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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

We’re Thankful for these Precautions before Trump Takes Office

There are a number of measures that LGBTQ APIs should do to protect themselves and their families under a Trump Administration. NQAPIA has consulted with immigration lawyers, public policy experts, and other attorneys to identify issues of particular importance to LGBTQ Asian Americans, South Asians, Southeast Asians, and Pacific Islanders.

Many of these applications will not be granted until after Trump takes office. But, even if Trump tries to eliminate everything that we have won, it is virtually impossible for changes to be retroactive. Applications filed today will be decided and granted on the basis of the laws and rules while Obama is in office. So, take care of these soon.


Transgender LGBTQ APIs

Apply or Update Passport

passportPresident Obama’s administration allowed for people to change and update their federally-issued identity documents, including gender-marker on passport and names on social security cards. Trump has vowed to eliminate all of Obama’s executive directives on January 20. You must apply and make and changes now. Adult passports last 10 years, so they will outlive a Trump presidency.

Apply for Passport from the U.S. State Department


Young Undocumented Immigrants

Renew DACA

President Obama created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program by executive order so that undocumented young people could be free from deportation and gain work authorization. Trump has given mixed messages on DACA, and at one point, he stated he has “no problem” with it.

If you are fearful about what Trump will do with current DACA enrollees, know that NQAPIA, countless advocacy organizations, and high powered lawyers will do everything that we can to protect you and your family.

If you have DACA now but it will expire in the next 6 months, file a mandatory renewal now. Not filing a renewal could subject you to noncompliance and makes you a higher priority for investigation. Those who follow the rules, as they are now, are less likely to be gone after.

If you have never applied for DACA, you should consult with an immigration attorney before filing a new application. Click here to find an attorney.


Health Insurance through Obamacare

Apply Now


www.healthcare.gov
Apply for Obamacare
Update your Obamacare Plan

If you do not have health insurance, you should apply for Obamacare through the federal system or one of your state health exchanges. Open Enrollment is now. Although Trump and Congressional leaders have promised to eliminate the Affordable Care Act, that will not happen at least for another year. The more people who are in the system now, the more difficult it will be to get rid of the system. Efforts to repeal may also “grandfather” current enrollees and allow them to maintain their health insurance while declining to take any new people.


Immigrants Eligible for Green Cards or Naturalization

Apply Now

Green Card ExampleIf you are eligible for a green card or eligible to become a U.S. citizen, you should file your application now. They take several months to process, but becoming a permanent resident or a citizen substantially increases your security to live in America. If you have any criminal history or entered the U.S. without permission, consult an attorney before filing any paperwork.


LGBTQ Immigrants Seeking Asylum

Apply Now

LGBTQ people are persecuted in many countries in Asia and the Pacific. Foreign nationals may seek political asylum in the United States based on the sexual orientation or gender-identity. But, federal law has a strict one-year time limitation for people to file an application from the date of entry. This cannot be undone by Trump. If you are seeking political asylum you should consult with an attorney, and apply now.


Same-Sex Marriage is Safe

Don’t Get Married if You Don’t Want To

Graphic of the White House in Rainbow ColorsThe right for same-sex couples to legally marry was decided by the US Supreme Court and is based on the US Constitution. Trump cannot undo marriages or take the right away. Even if he appoints an anti-marriage Supreme Court Justice, the majority of justices that ruled twice in favor of marriage equality will remain on the Court. There is no need to rush to get married now.


LGBTQ APIs with Children

Protect Your Relationship with Them

If you have a child, you should apply for a second-parent adoption or a joint adoption if you do not have a legally recognized relationship to the child, like birth. Even if your name is listed on the child’s birth certificate, that may not be enough.


Personal Protections

last will and testamentTrump may eliminate the Obama Administration’s hospital visitation policy. So, it is prudent to have family planning protections in the event of a tragedy. This includes a Last Will and Testament, Health Care Proxies, Medical and Financial Powers of Attorney, designation of guardians, and Living Wills. It is not limited to couples but includes single people and people in more dynamic relationship and family structures.


Need a Lawyer?

Ask Us

The above are prudent steps to take, but everyone’s legal situation is different.
To speak with an attorney for a legal consultation, complete NQAPIA’s Legal Intake Form, or find an attorney from this list.No Human is Illegal

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2016 Voter Infographics

API's are the largest set of new immigrants (both documented & undocumented) to the US.

API’s are the largest set of new immigrants (both documented & undocumented) to the US.

AAPI's are the nation's fastest growing minority group & an increasing segment of the LGBT community.

AAPI’s are the nation’s fastest growing minority group & an increasing segment of the LGBT community.

This year's presidential race will be very close and decided by the slimmest of margins. (Source: Washington Post, CNN)

This year’s presidential race will be very close and decided by the slimmest of margins. (Source: Washington Post, CNN)

By 2060, 1 of every ten Americans will be of Asian descent.

By 2060, 1 of every ten Americans will be of Asian descent.

There's been a 16% increase in the number of eligible AAPI voters since the last presidential election.

There’s been a 16% increase in the number of eligible AAPI voters since the last presidential election.

Just 537 votes (in Florida) decided the 2000 presidential race between Al Gore and George Bush. EVERY VOTE COUNTS.

Just 537 votes (in Florida) decided the 2000 presidential race between Al Gore and George Bush. EVERY VOTE COUNTS.

Register to vote at bit.ly/nqapia16.
Register to vote at bit.ly/nqapia16.

A Different Closet: Undocumented LGBT Immigrants

A Different Closet

A Different Closet

Undocumented LGBT Immigrants:
Harsh Realities Special Challenges

Available as a Live or Audiocast CLE Program

One of the hottest political issues of the current election cycle is that of immigration. Undocumented immigrants are being received by American society in a very different way than immigrants in the past. Undocumented LGBT immigrants in particular face unique legal and cultural issues. The goal of this program is delve into the legal and cultural issues faced by being an undocumented LGBT Asian immigrant in the United States in 2016.

Speakers

Moderator David J. Alfini, Partner at Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP

Nishan Bhaumik
Equal Justice Works Fellow
New York City Anti-Violence Project

Rose Cuison-Villazor
Professor of Law
UC Davis School of Law

Apphia Kumar
Board Chair
SALGA-NYC

Details

July 27, 2016

6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP
800 Third Avenue
13th Floor
New York, New York

Wine, beer and light
fare provided

1 hour of CLE credit is pending for this program

Register for the Live or Audiocast Program

Why Queer APIs Want to #EndLGBTQDetention

As queer Asian American Pacific Islander communities who have an investment in abolishing immigration detention and deportation, this has been quite a week. On Monday, Jeb Bush explained that anchor babies are not a Latino phenomenon—but rather an Asian one. Through his comments, Bush again posits Asian Americans as “forever foreigners,” coming to the U.S. to stage a takeover of the country by the simple act of having children. This is an old trope and one that paints Asian Americans as less than full people in this country.

Queer APIs are dehumanized as “forever foreigners,” immigrants who can never become fully part of the U.S. or fully human.

On the same day, Joseph Pemberton admitted to strangling Jennifer Laude, a Filipina transwoman, to death. He used a ‘trans panic’ defense in court, citing his shock at discovering Jennifer was trans* as justification for murdering her. Transwomen of color are routinely targets of harassment, violence, and murder. Last Tuesday, Black Transwomen led a national day of action to say that Black Transwomen’s Lives Matter. For API transwomen like Jennifer Laude, the combination of transphobia and racism is too often deadly.

Queer APIs are dehumanized as transwomen, seen as less than human and then blamed for transphobic violence.

 

#EndTransDetention Transgender women who are locked up are 10 times more likely to be sexually assaulted

Next month, ICE is threatening to move detained immigrant transwomen to Adelanto, a facility known for the abuse and death of its inmates. We can’t pretend that these occurrences aren’t all connected. Asian immigrants are seen as foreigners, not true Americans, not real people in this country. Transwomen are seen as freaks, as deceivers, as less than human. We stand at the intersection of various forms of dehumanization, which allow immigration officials to play dominoes with the lives of detained transwomen.

Queer APIs say #EndLGBTQDetention because we are sick of being dehumanized as “forever foreigners,” as trans deceivers, as immigrants.

We stand with those most marginalized in our communities, and commit ourselves to fighting for liberation, together. Nobody should be in immigration detention, and especially not at Adelanto. As queer APIs, we cannot remain silent as members of our community are subjected to incredible acts of violence by the U.S. state.

That’s why, as NQAPIA, we refuse to be a political stunt and derided as “anchor babies.” We demand that Joseph Pemberton be held accountable for his transphobic and racist murder. We demand that the transfer of transwomen to Adelanto be stopped.

These issues are all connected—and yes, they are killing us.

NQAPIA in Solidarity with LGBT Immigration Action at White House

September 10, 2014- Many of our friends in the LGBT movement gathered at the White House yesterday to raise their voices in disappointment over President Obama’s recent announcement that he will wait until after the November midterm elections before issuing executive action on immigration. While we know that the ongoing intransigence of the House of Representative’s leadership has brought us to this stalemate, President Obama has prioritized political expediency over doing the right thing by the 11 million undocumented and their families.

NQAPIA stands in solidarity with the organizations including Immigration Equality, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, GetEqual, Freedom to Marry, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, United We Dream, League of United Latin American Citizens that are taking to the streets, to Pennsylvania Avenue, and to Capitol Hill. We too have taken to the streets, to the House of Representatives, and to the White House in recent actions to call for immigration reform that provides relief for LGBT immigrants. In recent weeks, we have joined Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific lslander (AAPI) and other immigrant community advocates in escalating action on the White House and the Congress.

Ben de Guzman at 9.4.14 AAPI Press Conference

Ben de Guzman at 9.4.14 AAPI Press Conference

NQAPIA joins AAPI and Immigrant Rights Fight for Families March

NQAPIA joins AAPI and Immigrant Rights Fight for Families March

One of these actions marked a particular moment in the LGBT and AAPI communities on Thursday, Septmeber 4 as Ben de Guzman, NQAPIA Co-Director for Programs delivered 2,776 postcards to Gautam Raghavan from the White House Office of Public Engagement, calling for immigration reform. This hand-off signaled one of the last public actions for both men, as both Ben and Gautam announced their stepping down from NQAPIA and the White House respectively. NQAPIA is proud of Ben’s service and is also sad to see Gautam go, after working with him as the White House’s liaison to both the AAPI and LGBT communities for a number of years.

NQAPIA delivers 2,700 postcards on immigration to the White House

NQAPIA delivers 2,700 postcards on immigration to the White House

While these two public servants step off this stage with our best wishes, NQAPIA will continue to fight for immigrants’ rights. As Ben noted at a press conference last week, “This is not about politics, this is about people’s lives.”

Washington, DC Special Screening of “Documented” and Q&A featuring filmmaker Jose Antonio Vargas- June 1, 2014

We are pleased to present a special screening of Jose Antonio Vargas’ film, “Documented” during its opening weekend in the nation’s capital.

Tickets are general admission- we STRONGLY encourage people to buy tickets online in advance here.
For the Sunday June 1 5pm showing, Jose will be on hand for a Q&A panel with leaders of local and national LGBT, Filipino American, and Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) organizations.Further information is below. Please note: you MUST buy a ticket for general admission to see the film as you would normally in order to stay afterwards for the Q&A.The venue is a small, independent theater, seats will go quickly. We encourage people to come early and stay late!
Information for “Documented” Screening and Q&A Panel
Sunday, June 1, 5pm
West End Theater
2301 M Street, NW
5:00 PM Showing
Panel afterwards featuring local and national advocates, including:
Jose Antonio Vargas, Filmmaker and founder, Define American 
Mara Keisling, Executive Director National Center for Transgender Equality
Marita Etcubanez, Former Co-chair, Kaya: Filipino Americans for Progress- DC Chapter
Ben de Guzman, Co-Director for Programs, National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance 
Co-sponsors
National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA)
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
National Center for Transgender Equality
Kaya: Filipino Americans for Progress- DC Chapter
Asian Pacific Islander Queers United for Action (AQUA-DC)
Asian Pacific Islander Queer Sisters (APIQS)
KhushDC- South Asian LGBT Organization in Washington, DC
Check our our Facebook page here.

NQAPIA Media Release: LGBT Asian Americans Join Broader Immigrant Rights Movement in Ongoing Action

Caption:  (L-R) Pabitra Benjamin (NQAPIA), DJ Yoon (NAKASEC), Ben de Guzman (NQAPIA), Diana Bui (NAPAWF-DC), Dong Yoon Kim (NAKASEC), Becky Belcore (Korean Resource and Cultural Center, Chicago, IL), Emily Kessel (NAKASEC), Deepak Bhargava (Center for Community Change, Washington, DC)

LGBT Asian Americans Join Broader Immigrant Rights

Movement In Ongoing Action

 

NQAPIA mobilizes solidarity fasters around the country and connects

AAPI and LGBT issues around immigration

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Contact:

Ben de Guzman

E-mail: ben_deguzman@nqapia.org;

Phone:  202-422-4909

 

Washington, DC- The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) committed this week to continue to fight for immigrants rights in Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities.  Today, NQAPIA joins our partners and allies in Washington, DC to call on our lawmakers to do the right thing and pass immigration reform.  This action comes on the heels of a week that has seen NQAPIA staff, board, and volunteers in Washington, DC, Chicago, IL, and San Francisco, CA take part in the Fast for Families campaign.  Over the course of this past week and heading into the holidays, NQAPIA will continue to put our bodies on the line to fight for justice for immigrants and our families.

Last Friday in Washington, DC, NQAPIA Co-Director for Programs Ben de Guzman kicked off the NQAPIA solidarity fast and joined national leaders including DJ Yoon, the Executive Director of the National Korean American Service and Education Consortium (NAKASEC).  NQAPIA and NAKASEC have been key partners in fighting for immigration reform with the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA).

“NQAPIA is proud to join #Fast4Families and we salute the bravery of our friend and colleague DJ Yoon, who as one of the original #Fast4Families fasters along with Eliseo Medina and Christian Alvarez, sacrificed for 22 days for immigration reform.  As I indicated at the evening vigil when I broke my fast, LGBT people know what it means to love in the face of adversity and we are with you in solidarity.”

“NAKASEC fights for immigrants’ rights shoulder to shoulder with NQAPIA,” said DJ Yoon.  “We know that all immigrants and their families face challenges because of the broken immigration system and that LGBT people in our communities also face an additional set of barriers.  Our fight for justice is for ALL people and can leave no one behind.”

NQAPIA’s ongoing campaign for immigrants’ rights will continue to build off of our successes in 2013, which include:

 

  • Delivering over 5,400 postcards to the Senate and the House of Representatives from constituents around the country calling for immigration reform;
  • Forums in Chicago, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, and San Francisco raising awareness about LGBT AAPI communities and the impact of immigration reform;
  • “Uncovering Our Stories” multimedia campaign that brings powerful voices from over a dozen LGBT AAPI immigrants and family members directly affected by the broken immigration system in video, online narratives, and a written publication;
  • Direct mobilization of over 100 volunteers for grassroots public education efforts in Washington, DC, Portland, OR, Twin Cities, MN, Central New Jersey, suburbran Virginia, Staten Island, NY, Portland, OR, and Honolulu, HI

Ben and DJ Yoon

Caption: NQAPIA Co-Director for Programs Ben de Guzman and NAKASEC Executive Director DJ Yoon at #Fast4Families Tent in Washington, DC

Intern Blog: Immigration Is Also Our Issue

By Steven

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to observe a panel on immigration reform that featured Jose Antonio Vargas. I attended the event with two of my friends, both of whom are also AAPI interns in D.C. this summer. At one point during the panel, the moderator framed the current immigration bill as a civil rights movement for Latinos. When he said that, all three of us cringed. I heard stories of undocumented AAPI experiences that belong to a Pakistani child who immigrated for facilities that treat cancer, a Chinese immigrant who overstayed her visa because her father’s rash prevented everyone in their family from being fingerprinted, and more. This issue affects our communities on multiple levels. It’s an AAPI issue that attacks the way our different communities honor family and challenges our claim to being American.

Read more

NQAPIA Op-Ed on LGBT Undocumented

NQAPIA Co-Director Ben de Guzman attended the launch of a report by the Center for American Progress and the Williams Institute on LGBT undocumented immigrants.  Some of the key findings of “Living in Dual Shadows” include:

  • 267,000 LGBT undocumented immigrants
  • LGBT undocumented immigrants are more likely to be Asian (15% of the LGBT undocumented population v. 11% of the entire undocumented population) and young (49% under 30 among LGBT undocumented population v. 30% among entire LGBT undocumented population)
  • 32,000 binational couples

NQAPIA’s op-ed on the report’s findings were published in Huffingtonpost’s “Gay Voices” section.  It is included in its entirety below:

“Immigrants Living in Dual Shadows, LGBT Undocumented,” just released by the Center for American Progress and the Williams Institute, is quite an eye opener. The National Queer Asian Pacific Island Alliance (NQAPIA) commends them on this cutting-edge report.

The current debate in Washington and across the country around comprehensive immigration reform requires the engagement of everyone, including the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. This important research finally gives us an opportunity to put real numbers behind the work we do — to push for a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, for improvements to the system for high-skilled and low-wage workers, to reuniting families — including LGBT families, to easing the restrictions to applying for asylum, and for a more humane system for enforcement of immigration laws.

Some of the key findings reveal that the actual number of LGBT undocumented people in the U.S. are disproportionately younger and Asian than the overall undocumented population. The percentage of Asian, LGBT undocumented immigrants is significantly larger than that of our straight counterparts. We are 15 percent of the LGBT undocumented immigrant population, as opposed to 11 percent of all undocumented immigrants. This is a critical sign that we need to increase our efforts to raise our voices for reform in our local communities and in Washington.

Oversimplified categorizations stereotype the concerns communities have around immigration. Latinos do not just care about a path to citizenship. Asians do not just care about more family visas and high-tech workers. And, the LGBT community is fighting for reforms broader than only those affecting bi-national couples.

We all have a stake in truly comprehensive immigration reform that works for all our families — LGBT and straight, undocumented and citizen. Through NQAPIA’s “Uncovering Our Stories” campaign, and the thousands of postcards we are collecting that call for reform, we will be lifting up even more information from our communities about the true impact of the broken immigration system and the need for real reform.

Join us! Get involved!