NQAPIA Joins National Asian American Statement on Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill

NQAPIA, along with other members of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA), the leading coalition of national Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) advocacy organizations, issued a joint statement on the Senate Judiciary Committee’s markup in favor of S. 744- Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013. 

The bill, which was moved forward out of committee by a 13-5 vote margin, kept key provisions of the base bill, including a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented.  Unfortunately, amendments to address family immigration, including provisions to restore access for siblings and adult married children, were not included in the final bill.  Senator Leahy’s (D-VT) amendments to include same sex bi-national couples were also not included.

NQAPIA’s statement by Ben de Guzman, Co-Director for Programs, is included in the joint statement, which appears below and is also available on NCAPA’s web site:

“This historic legislation is now moving forward, but still includes insufficiently narrow  definitions of family. The failure to act on provisions to include same sex  bi-national couples in the family immigration system is particularly  difficult to bear, especially given the strong support our organizations have  shown for LGBT families in our communities. Sen. Hirono’s amendments to  improve the family immigration system that were not passed tell us that we must ramp up the fight for a broad and inclusive definition of family in this  immigration bill.”

NQAPIA continues to fight for comprehensive immigration reform that keeps ALL our families together.



NCAPA Leaders Comment  on Passage of Senate Immigration Bill though Senate Judiciary Committee

WASHINGTON  ― Leaders from the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA), a  coalition of 30 national Asian Pacific American organizations, issued the  following statements on Tuesday’s passage of S. 744, titled Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and  Immigration Modernization Act of 2013, through the Senate  Judiciary Committee.


Deepa  Iyer, NCAPA Chair and Executive Director, South Asian Americans Leading  Together:

“We commend the Gang of Eight and the  Senate Judiciary Committee for taking up immigration reform and moving  legislation to the Senate floor for a vote. At the same time, we have  significant concerns with particular aspects of this bill, ranging from stringent  enforcement measures to the definition of families. As the floor debate  begins, our organizations will be engaging community members and policymakers  to raise awareness about these issues.”

Jeff  Caballero, Executive Director, Association  of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations:

“We  are so pleased that the bill that emerged from the Senate Judiciary Committee  includes Senator Mazie Hirono’s (D-HI) amendment to extend health care for Compact  of Free Association (COFA) migrants, fixing a mistake from 1996. As the  debate moves to the floor, we hope that barriers to health care will be  lifted for immigrants so that they can participate in the full range of  health care programs available to other tax-paying members of our society and  that visa options will be extended to all family members.”

Gregory  Cendana, Executive Director, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO:

“While we commend the  passage of some amendments on worker protections, including labor recruitment  regulations, we are extremely concerned with the last minute increase of  high-skilled visas without protective measures. Tech companies can displace  American workers and then pay H1-B visa holders at a lower wage. Real  commonsense reform should be transparent and uphold protections for all  workers — instead of allowing profitable loopholes.”

Ben de Guzman, Co-director for Programs, National Queer  Asian Pacific Alliance: “This historic legislation is now moving forward, but still includes insufficiently narrow  definitions of family. The failure to act on provisions to include same sex  bi-national couples in the family immigration system is particularly  difficult to bear, especially given the strong support our organizations have  shown for LGBT families in our communities. Sen. Hirono’s amendments to  improve the family immigration system that were not passed tell us that we  must ramp up the fight for a broad and inclusive definition of family in this  immigration bill.”Tom Hayashi, Executive Director, OCA:

“We are  pleased and applaud the Senate Judiciary Committee for advancing common sense  immigration reforms. However, our community must remain vigilant in  advocating for inclusion of the family reunification provisions. As a  national membership driven organization which directly engages lay advocates  coast-to-coast on this critical issue, we will continue to fight for a family  based immigration system that is fair and humane to all aspiring Americans. We  would like to thank Sen. Hirono for her tireless efforts in representing the  Asian Pacific American community and standing firm on strengthening the bill  to reflect the fundamental value of intact families being the backbone of  America.”

Mee Moua, President and Executive Director, Asian American  Justice Center:

“We  want to acknowledge this key moment in our progress to achieving a  commonsense solution for immigrants nationwide. We thank Sen. Hirono for  standing with the millions of families awaiting family reunification and  applaud her for the passage of her amendment to reunite Filipino World War II  veterans with their children. We are disappointed that the Senate Judiciary  committee refused to adopt an amendment that would have alleviated the  extreme hardships some families experience due to prolonged separation, but  look forward to working with both the House and Senate on a solution that  includes all families.”

Doua Thor, executive director, Southeast Asia Resource Action  Center:

“We  thank Senator Patrick Patrick Leahy (D-VT)  for his strong leadership and his principled  and passionate defense of human rights and due process. SEARAC will continue  to educate policymakers about the effects of harsh deportation and detention  policies on our communities, including green card holders and those who  entered this country as refugees. This historic opportunity to bring these  policies in line with principles of justice and fairness for all immigrants  should not be missed.”

Miriam Yeung, executive director, National Asian Pacific  American Women’s Forum:

“Last  night’s conclusion of the Senate Judiciary Committee debate on the  bi-partisan bill S. 744 brought immigration policy reform one step closer to  reality. We commend the Gang of Eight senators for moving this important  legislation forward and rejecting scores of poison-pill amendments aimed to  derail the roadmap to citizenship. The bill left the committee with positive  provisions that recognize the contributions of millions of aspiring citizens,  the majority of whom are women, including provisions for survivors of  domestic violence. It did not, however, include provisions to give aspiring  citizens health equity or LGBT couples respect. As the bill moves to the  Senate floor for a full vote, NAPAWF will remain engaged with policy makers  and continue to mobilize to ensure that the final bill keeps all families  together, protects the health and well-being of Asian American and Pacific  Islander women, and provides an attainable process for citizenship as we move  forward.”

Dae Joong (DJ) Yoon, executive director, National Korean  American Service & Education Consortium:

“Today’s  passage of a comprehensive immigration reform bill from the Senate Judiciary  Committee is a promising sign that we may see a new law passed this year. We  welcome this milestone. In the spirit of bipartisanship, the Senate Judiciary  Committee has stopped bad amendments and added good amendments as they worked  to pass comprehensive immigration reform. However, we are also concerned that  the Senate bill is eliminating the rights of U.S. citizens to sponsor their  siblings and older adult children. The family members of U.S. citizens might  be separated forever just because they don’t have high skills or higher  education degrees.  Separating loved  ones is not the American way of family immigration. For some community  members, a brother or sister is the only family they have. Family unity  allows our community to grow and thrive. NAKASEC will continue to mobilize  and advocate for critical amendments such as the preservation of the family  immigration system and to ensure that the path to citizenship is as affordable  as possible and provides access to public benefits to all hard working,  taxpaying immigrants.”


The National Council of Asian Pacific  Americans (NCAPA), founded in 1996, is a coalition of 30 national Asian  Pacific American organizations. Based in Washington D.C, NCAPA serves to  represent the interests of the Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific  Islander (AA & NHPI) community and to provide a national voice on policy  issues and priorities.

Uplifting all voices: A call for inclusive immigration reform debate // Thurs, April 25, 2013 (DC)

Join APALA-DC, NAPAWF-DC, and NQAPIA on Thursday, April 25 for a conversation about comprehensive immigration reform and what it means for those whose needs and voices have been largely marginalized by the dominant national conversation: including temporary workers, LGBTQ Asian immigrants, and immigrant survivors of violence. Hear the latest on the immigration reform debate locally and nationally, share your own stories, and find out how you can advocate for immigrants’ rights in your community.
*Refreshments provided.

Featured speakers

Josef Calugay
Founder of Katarungan: Center for Peace, Justice and Human Rights in the Philippines

Erwin De Leon
Research associate, the Urban Institute’s Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy

Linda Khoy
Community member whose sister is facing deportation



Thursday, April 25th, 2013
6:30 pm


Communications Workers of America
501 3rd St NW
First Floor Conference Room
Washington, DC 20001

Special thanks to our partners

Asian Pacific Islander Queer Sisters (APIQS)
The DC Center for the LGBT Community

NQAPIA Statement on Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill

For Immediate Release:  April 17, 2013

NQAPIA Statement on Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill

Washington, DC- April 16, 2013 marks an historic turning point in the journey towards comprehensive immigration reform and a more inclusive system of migration. While today’s introduction of  S. 744, the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013” contains provisions that represent both improvements to the currently broken immigration system, as well as areas of significant concern for Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities.  We commend the Senate, and in particular, the “Gang of Eight” Senators, for beginning this important conversation on immigration and immigrants’ rights.  AAPI LGBT communities are affected across the entire immigration system and addressing the complexities of this legislation is critical to achieving a fair and humane system- changes we must see.

The provisions around a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented individuals in the U.S. are an important step in the right direction, however we will continue to closely monitor the process called for in the legislation to ensure that these immigrants are brought out of the shadows.  We will push for a process that is fair, realistic, and accessible.  We ask: will individuals moving through that process have access to vital resources and programs?  Approximately 1 in 10 of the 11 million undocumented population are AAPI and that the AAPI population constitutes an even higher proportion of the LGBT undocumented population at fifteen percent.

The provisions to eliminate the backlogs of family visas constitute another important feature of the bill that will help AAPI families reunite.  Over 4.3 million people languish in these backlogs waiting to reunite with families in the U.S.  The longest lines in the world created by these backlogs are formed by people from Asian countries.  We are concerned, however, that the removal of important family categories that currently exist will prevent siblings and adult married children over the age of 30 from taking part, as well as the fact that same sex couples are not eligible for family reunification in this legislation.  We stand strong in the conviction that families need to be kept together, LGBT and straight alike, and that this legislation must have an expansive definition of family that respects traditional family structures as well as truly reflects our diversity.

Provisions around workers are an essential part of the conversation.  Again, the legislation includes both important protections and areas of concern.  The bill includes increases for high skilled workers (such as H1B visa holders) and improvements for low skilled workers (including agricultural workers), as well as important worker protections and provisions allowing work authorization for spouses and children.  Unfortunately, lingering questions remain about the E-Verify program to be mandated by the proposed legislation and which have potentially harmful pitfalls for transgender individuals.   Student visas are another crucial category of non-immigrant visas.  While some of the provisions around students in STEM fields (Science, Math, Engineering, and Technology) will allow them a path to citizenship, students in general are an especially vulnerable population.  LGBT student visa holders in particular face difficult choices between coming out and coming home.

Enforcement of immigration law have been particularly onerous; the proposed legislation provides some relief, but with caveats of consequence that require clarification.  While some  provisions, such as the elimination of the one-year deadline to file for asylum and improvements to the immigration courts are promising, we still need to monitor proposed improvements to detention facilities such as proposed alternatives to detention programs.  One of the most contentious issues around enforcement concerns border security.  While we have serious questions about priorities around border security that have been part of this compromise legislation, we look to provisions for the protections of civil rights that address racial profiling- a particular concern for South Asian communities.

We recognize that this is the beginning of the legislative process for this bill, and welcome the opportunity to engage with lawmakers on the vital issues contained there.  In turn, they must welcome that engagement.  In the coming months, we at the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) will continue to develop analysis of this bill and its implications for our communities.  In the U.S., we are at a tipping point in regard to immigration reform.  Every community needs to be activated and engaged in advocacy.  Every Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander (AAPI), every lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individual and community and our allies must work together to vigilantly ensure that all are acknowledged and represented in this historic legislation.

Join us as we go forward!

Coalition of Asian LGBT Groups Host Boston LGBT Immigration Forum

Contact: Ben de Guzman;; 202-422-4909

RSVP via Facebook:


What: An evening discussion focused on comprehensive immigration reform and what it means for LGBT Asian Americans, South Asian, Southeast Asians, and Pacific Islanders.  Share your/ your family’s story or come to listen. Refreshments and refreshing conversation will be provided.

An LGBT member of the Southeast Asian American community will talk about their family’s experience with the harsh immigration laws and how they threaten to tear their family apart.

We’ll bring the latest information locally and nationally about the national debate around immigrants’ rights and how YOU can get involved.

NQAPIA’s national postcard campaign and a local LGBT AAPI sign-on letter will allow you to have IMMEDIATE impact!

Where: 324 Tremont Street, Boston, MA (near the Tufts Medical Center stop on the Orange Line)

When: Thursday, March 21 Doors open at 6:30pm.

Who: This conversation will focus on Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) communities.  The event is open to all and participants’ support of the space with positive allyship practices is appreciated.


  • National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA)
  • MAP for Health
  • Massachusetts Area South Asian Lambda Association (MASALA)
  • Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (QAPA)
  • Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD)

Why: According to a study from the Center for American Progress and the Williams Institute, the LGBT undocumented population is disproportionately Asian.  With President Obama and the Congress moving on this issue, the time is NOW for comprehensive immigration reform.

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!

Dialing In: How to Get Involved in Comprehensive Immigration Reform


NQAPIA will be hosting a special Briefing, “Dialing In: How to Get Involved in Comprehensive Immigration Reform” on Wednesday, February 27.  We will be discussing the most recent updates on the national debate around comprehensive immigration reform and provide specific tools and resources on how you can get involved.

Can you join us?


NQAPIA Briefing- Dialing In: How to Get Involved in Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Wednesday, February 27

8:30 PM Eastern

7:30 PM Central

6:30 PM Mountain

5:30 PM Pacific

3:30 PM Hawai’i

Call-In:  712-432-3900 (access: 9156628#)




Uncovering Our Stories: LGBT Asian/ South Asian/ Southeast Asian/ Pacific Islander Immigrants Speak OUT on Immigration

(Photo:  Jose Antonio Vargas, openly gay undocumented immigrant and founder of, speaks at 2012 NQAPIA Conference)


As the debates around comprehensive immigration reform heat up, the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) seeks to ensure that the real life concerns of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) immigrants are brought to the fore and are part of the discussion.

NQAPIA is seeking queer AAPI immigrants to tell their stories and document them for inclusion in our work talking with policymakers.  We are especially seeking individuals who can talk about their experiences, troubles, goals, and ideas for reform with:

– being undocumented

– becoming a U.S. citizen and naturalization

– seeking or renewing their visas (either profession H1B or student F-1)

– petitioning for family members or same-sex partners

– applying for political asylum

– attending school

– domestic abuse or law enforcement misconduct

– racial profiling, detention, or deportation

In 2010, we shared four such stories at our New York LGBT Immigration Forum.  In 2013, we’re working with partners all over the country to raise up our voices on these issues.  One of the most powerful tools we have are our stories- real life examples of why the broken immigration system needs to be changed and how it uniquely affects us as LGBTQ people and our families.

Can you share your story with us?  Do you know someone else who can?  Contact us at for more information.  Stories shared by 2/28 will be able to have impact as action heats up in March and April.

Anonymity and confidentiality will be preserved.  Stories can be shared under the protection of a lawyer.  No personal information will be publically distributed without the person’s consent.  We will work with people to make sure they are best prepared to tell their stories in the best possible way.

NQAPIA’s goal is to identify the most pressing issues in immigration reform that will meaningfully improve the lives of LGBTQ AAPI immigrants.


Thank you,

Ben de Guzman, NQAPIA Co-Director


NQAPIA Resources

All LGBT Immigrants Need to be Considered in Immigration Reform

Jose Antonio Vargas and plenary panel at Creating Change (video starts after 40:00)

Jose Antonio Vargas and plenary panel at Creating Change (panel starts after 40:00)

For Immediate Release:  January 29, 2013



Ben de Guzman

NQAPIA Co-Director for Programs

Phone:  202-422-4909



This week, the debate on comprehensive immigration reform took real shape with the Senate introducing a bipartisan framework on principles on Monday, and the President making a statement on Tuesday.

The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) commends the Senate and the President on taking this initial first, bipartisan step.  Immigrants’ rights and the need for comprehensive immigration reform is a top priority for Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander (AAPI) lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) immigrant communities.

Of course, we will continue to work more closely as details emerge and legislation is introduced.  While there are some questions we have about what has been put forth thus far, we recognize that there are some important building blocks in the Senate’s and the President’s proposals.  We’re committed to working on them to support legislation that will benefit not only the AAPI LGBT communities we work with, but will, on balance, move towards a more comprehensive solution for the entire country.

The inclusion of a path to citizenship and relief for the over 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country is a key component of both proposals.  We estimate that 750,000 of those undocumented immigrants are LGBT, and we call for reform that will help ALL of them. Young undocumented activists who worked on the DREAM Act and who are queer have, by making the connection between coming out of the closet and out of the shadows, changed the political landscape, are also included, is encouraging.  The AAPI immigrant families we work with, both LGBT and straight members alike, can also take heart in the provisions to reduce the family petition backlogs, which both proposals include.

But there are discrepancies between the proposals, and the policies that are of concern to our communities and must be addressed.  Provisions around enforcement and detention must not be onerous on our communities.

One of the main discrepancies between the Senate’s and the President’s proposals directly concerns LGBT families.  The Senate’s framework and the discussion of reforming the family-based immigration system did not include same-sex couples, where the President’s statement, on the other hand, states clearly that it will give “U.S. citizens and lawful residents the ability to seek a visa on the basis of a permanent relationship with a same-sex partner.”   It is clearly one of the more specific instances where the President’s proposal differs from the Senate’s framework.  We will build on that as a starting point to move the conversation forward.  This means that LGBT communities will be a key constituency to weigh in on comprehensive immigration reform, and we call for a broader reform that supports not only same-sex couples but ALL LGBT immigrants who desperately need reform to the currently broken system.

NQAPIA has always centered the unique perspectives and needs of LGBT immigrants in its work on immigrants’ rights and comprehensive immigration reform.  The LGBT Immigration Forums we have done around the country for the last three years has built a solid foundation for the work we now begin.  This past weekend at the 2013 Creating Change Conference in Atlanta, GA, we collected approximately 4,000 postcards calling on the Congress and the President to act on comprehensive immigration reform now.  As the debate moves forward, we are committed to educating and mobilizing our communities on this important issue.  I hope you’ll join us in this important effort.



New Fact Sheets on LGBT Immigrant Rights

Check out these new fact sheets on LGBT Immigrant Rights from NQAPIA and the Asian American Justice Center:

LGBT Detention Enforcement Fact Sheet

Undocumented LGBT Fact Sheet

Please share widely with other friends, colleagues, and organizations who advocate for the rights of immigrants and LGBT people. Thank you!