Love Through Adversity

Caption:  Proud to stand by fellow solidarity fasters Mara Keisling (National Center for Transgender Equality), Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA), and Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), and Sharita Gruberg (Center for American Progress), along with our friends at NCTE and CAP.



Today, I am not eating.

Not because of the latest diet fad, or because I can’t find organic vegetables.  I’m fasting for a cause I believe in- common sense immigration reform.

I’m joining the #Fast4Families for a one day solidarity fast, along with activists from LGBT AAPI communities around the country.  NQAPIA board members, staff, and partners are joining over 500 solidarity fasters from AAPI communities to push Congressional action on common sense immigration reform.

Tell Congress to act on common sense immigration reform, and raise your voice for the families that want to stay together.

Congress remains stuck in partisan bickering, but we need them to act now.  Our families across the country are waiting for a decision and can’t afford to wait any longer.  So we’re following the footsteps of human rights leaders like Mahatma Ghandi, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chavez, and now, sadly enough, Nelson Mandela who are no longer with us, but who energized their communities by fasting as protest to push for justice.

The note I left with the fasters says it all:  “LGBT people know how to love in the face of adversity.”  That’s why we #Fast4Families and bring our bodies and whole selves to the struggle.

Next week is your last chance to contact Congress before the end of this year’s session.  Add your voice to the chorus calling for immigration reform.

Fasting will not be easy, but I need to do this for our community.  And I know I’ll find strength when you join me in demanding justice for LGBT AAPI immigrants and all our families.

In hope,

Ben de Guzman


P.S.   Looking for another way to support our fast?  Please donate $10 today by clicking here.

Time Is Running Out

Pabitra Benjamin shared her thoughts about the NQAPIA hill drop and delivering over 2,700 postcards calling for commonsense immigration reform.  Add your voice to hers and tell the Congress to pass immigration reform this year!


Dear Friend,

I’ve just spent two amazing days on Capitol Hill talking to actual members of Congress about immigration reform from a perspective they NEVER get to hear.  As a South Asian queer advocate, my perspective is at best ignored, and at worst, vilified.  Being told that “immigration is a Latino issue,” or “Deportations are too tough an issue to talk about” weighs heavily on me as I fight for the needs of my community.  Having lawmakers listen to our communities’ stories and the issues we care about such as family reunification, protecting workers’ rights, providing health care for immigrants, and stopping arbitrary deportations and detentions on our terms has been nothing short of inspiring.

There is perhaps no more important time for these conversations to happen.  As we approach the holidays, the window is closing for the Congress to act on enacting real reform that provides relief for our communities and our families.

Will you join me in telling the Congress that our stories matter and demand immigration reform for ALL our families before the end of the year? 

Speaking with the members of Congress gave me valuable insight on the challenges we face, but also the opportunities we have to have real impact.  Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) is the chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and Rep. Jared Polis (D-CA), her counterpart in the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, heard us loud and clear as immigrants and family members who are both AAPI and LGBT.  Calling them to account for our communities is not just an exercise in democracy, but a testament to the power we can wield as a community.

In the next few weeks, lobbyists on all sides of this issue will bring their slick messaging and glossy presentations to the Hill as the heat turns up on the immigration debate.  For us, our most powerful tools we bring to the table are the compelling stories of real need in our communities for real change.  Seeing the eyes of a Congressmember light up when they heard our real stories, I know this to be true now more than ever.

Tell your member of Congress that all our stories are important and that they need to pass commonsense immigration reform now before it’s too late.


In unity,

Pabitra Benjamin


P.S. Learn more about our communities in NQAPIA’s Uncovering Our Stories series.


LGBT Asian Americans Raising Our Voices on Immigration Reform

National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance Meets with Members of Congress to Push for a Commonsense and Compassionate Immigration Reform

For Immediate Release: Monday, November 25, 2013 

Washington, DC: The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance delivered over 2,700 postcards to the House of Representatives last week calling for commonsense immigration reform that includes all families, including LGBT families.  As the Congressional session is nearing its close, NQAPIA is bringing voices of Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities and our allies from across the country to keep the Congress’ attention focused on the need to fix the broken immigration system.

NQAPIA’s immigrant rights campaign has focused on bringing AAPI LGBT people affected by the broken immigration system to the fore.  The “Uncovering Our Stories” campaign highlights over a dozen personal narratives that clearly demonstrate the need for reform.  This multimedia campaign includes a color brochure, online narratives, and videos of diverse voices in our communities.

“As Asian Americans, we know that the ability to keep our families together from an overly aggressive deportation system and a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants, over 10% of which are from our communities, is at stake,” said Ben de Guzman, NQAPIA Co-Director.  “We also know as LGBT people that what constitutes a family is also at stake, and the overly narrow definition of family is something we are all too familiar with.  We also fight for a humane immigration system that allows real opportunities for asylum seekers and reform that keeps people, especially transgender immigrants, out of harm’s way in the detention system.”

NQAPIA staff and volunteers met with a number of members of Congress directly in its efforts to garner support for immigration reform:

Representative Judy Chu (D-CA): Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus

NQAPIA’s commitment to comprehensive immigration reform is crucial to fixing our broken borders. Their “Uncover Our Stories” campaign reminds us all of the human toll of our current immigration system. As Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, I work every day to ensure the needs of the AAPI community are addressed in any reform package and I am thrilled to have NQAPIA as an ally in this effort. Together, we’ll continue the fight to keep all families together.

Rep. Chu meeting with Chinese American lesbian immigrant

Rep. Chu meeting with Chinese American lesbian immigrant

Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO): Chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus

I was proud to have met with members of the National Queer Asian Pacific American Alliance who are working tirelessly on the need to pass a commonsense and compassionate comprehensive immigration reform bill.

Rep. Polis accepting postcards

Rep. Polis accepting postcards

Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-IL): Chair of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus

The support for immigration reform is broad and deep and goes way beyond the Latino community.  Yesterday I heard from members of the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance on how this issue impacts their community. Each of us has a responsibility to do our part.  It is going to take all of us being persistent and consistent in our call for reform — that is what will win us reform that keeps families together and moves the country forward.

Rep. Gutierrez and NQAPIA

Rep. Gutierrez and NQAPIA contingent

Representative Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI): Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus

“The issue of LGBT rights and the debate on immigration stand front and center in Hawaii; both are central to the fight for equality. The National Queer Asian Pacific American Alliance has delivered over 400 cards signed by my constituents demanding commonsense and compassionate immigration reform. The voice of Hawaii’s people are reflected in the efforts of our LGBT AAPI community to effect change in marriage equality and immigration, and I join them in pursuing true equality.”

Team NQAPIA delivering 400 postcards to Rep. Hanabusa’s staff

Team NQAPIA delivering 400 postcards to Rep. Hanabusa’s staff

Representative Ami Bera (D-CA): Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus

‘The issue of immigration for LGBT people in our AAPI communities is something we don’t often talk about, but provides critical perspective in this fight for immigration reform. LGBT community members are uniquely impacted by the broken immigration system and hearing stories directly from the community was important for me.’

Rep. Bera discussing immigration with NQAPIA

Rep. Bera discussing immigration with NQAPIA

Intern Corner: ENDA & Immigration Reform

United We Dream: Flash Mob at the Capitol by Elizabeth

This Wednesday, I had the opportunity to participate in United We Dream’s action at the Capitol for immigration reform. After a mock citizenship ceremony on the Senate lawn, over 500 DREAMers and immigrants’ rights activists gathered slowly in the Capitol Visitors’ Center. Led by little DREAMers in elementary and middle school, we recited the Pledge of Allegiance and sang the national anthem together. It was the first time the Pledge has brought tears to my eyes; probably the first time I’ve ever really heard it said with meaning and purpose accompanied by action. The energy was incredible, and as the Star Spangled Banner ended, the group began to chant, “Sí, se puede!” as police escorted us out.

Read more

Wish You Were Here: NQAPIA Delivers Postcards for Comprehensive Immigration Reform


Wish You Were Here: National LGBT Asian American Group Delivers Postcards for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

NQAPIA to deliver thousands of postcards from across the country

to the Senate in time for critical vote

Contact: Ben de Guzman

NQAPIA Co-Director for Programs E-Mail: Phone: 202-422-4909

Washington, DC: Today, the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) begins a weeklong drive to deliver over 2,700 postcards to the United States Senate in support of comprehensive immigration reform. Constituents from around the nation, many of whom representing Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities, sent these postcards in support of justice for all immigrants. The postcards are intended to coincide with a planned vote on the Senate floor for S744:  The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act.   Among the Senate offices receiving postcards are:

  • Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY): The leading Democrat on the “Gang of Eight” will get a whopping 188 postcards, the biggest individual delivery, from his constituents calling for immigration reform.
  • Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL): One of the key Republicans on the “Gang of Eight” will receive postcards from Floridians calling for immigration reform.
  • Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ): Tony Choi, an undocumented AAPI LGBT immigrant from Korea, will bring postcards from his fellow New Jerseyans to Democrat “Gang of Eight” member Senator Menendez.
  • Senator Jeff Chisea (R-NJ):  Tony will also bring postcards to the Republican Senator appointed to fill the seat vacated when Senator Lautenberg (D-NJ) passed away.
  • Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI): The first openly LGBT Senator, whose support for the entire package of comprehensive immigration reform, including a path to citizenship for the undocumented as well as keeping immigrant families united (including siblings and adult married children as well as same-sex binational couples) will be critical.

AAPIs comprise 11% of all undocumented immigrants in the United States, but represent 15% of undocumented LGBT immigrants in the United States.  There are over 4 million people languishing in backlogs of family petitions, about half of whom are waiting to reunite with AAPI families.  For these immigrants and the entire community, the time has come for immigration reform that protects all our families.

“Our communities are speaking out at this critical moment for comprehensive immigration reform that works for everyone,” said Ben de Guzman, NQAPIA Co-Director for Programs.  “We understand that how this bill defines families and the family immigration system will have profound impact on all of us.  As AAPIs, we know that, as the saying goes, ‘it takes a village’ to ensure our families are able to thrive.  As LGBTs, we also know the bureaucratic gymnastics we have to do to keep our families recognized in the light of laws that only accept definitions of a nuclear family.  The time for immigration reform that captures the reality of how the modern American family is configured is NOW.” Over 2,700 postcards are being delivered to the Senate this week, representing 40 states around the country.  Some of the states with the largest contingents of postcards include New York (377), California (304 total), Pennsylvania (246 total), Massachusetts (212 total), Georgia (196 total), and Texas (135 total). NQAPIA is a federation of AAPI LGBT organizations around the country.  Through its work with local communities, as well as advocacy and research, NQAPIA is fighting for comprehensive immigration reform that includes:

  • A path to citizenship for the undocumented;
  • Family Reunification- including same-sex binational couples, siblings, and adult married children that are left out of the current bill;
  • Humane Enforcement- including reforms for the detention system and the removal of the one-year deadline to apply for asylum; and
  • Improvements for Immigrant Workers- including reforms to non-immigrant worker visas for both high-tech and low-skilled workers.

NQAPIA Statement on Senator Daniel Inouye

NQAPIA Co-Director Ben de Guzman with Senator Inouye

We mourn the loss of Senator Daniel K. Inouye of Hawai’i, who passed away on Tuesday, December 18, 2012.  Senator Inouye was an elder statesman in the Senate, and as President Pro Tempore, was third in line for the Presidency- an unprecedented role for an Asian American in politics.  Senator Inouye was the first Congressmember to represent Hawaiʻi in the Congress when he was elected in 1959, and was second only to Senator Robert Byrd in years served in the Senate.

As a World War II veteran, Senator Inouye was outspoken about discrimination in the military.  He championed the cause of Filipino World War II veterans equity and supported the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, saying in a statement, “In every war we have had men and women of different sexual orientation who have stood in harm’s way and given their lives for their country. I fought alongside gay men during World War II, many of them were killed in combat. Are we to suggest that because of their sexual orientation they are not heroes?”  He also supported a range of issues of concern to AAPI and LGBT communities, including Hawaiian sovereignty, immigration, and marriage equality.

“Senator Inouye’s passing is a loss to the entire country,” said Ben de Guzman, NQAPIA Co-Director for Programs.  “He was an elder statesman in the Senate, a rarity for AAPIs in Capitol Hill.  At the same time, he was an advocate for the LGBT community, speaking out on issues like the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and marriage equality.  He will be sorely missed.”