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.
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.