LGBT Groups File Amicus Brief at U.S. Supreme Court for Immigrants’ Rights
Photo: Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) receive postcards from openly gay undocumented immigrant Tony Choi and NQAPIA Co-Director for Programs Ben de Guzman
NQAPIA delivers 2,700 postcards to the Senate calling for immigration reform while Supreme Court makes historic decision on marriage equality
For Immediate Release
June 27, 2013
Washington, DC: Today, the Senate voted 68-32 to pass long-awaited comprehensive immigration reform, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act. The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) sees progress in today’s vote for the Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities we serve, but also some challenges and some hard questions that are yet to be answered as the bill moves to the House of Representatives. We continue to fight for comprehensive immigration reform legislation that works for all families, immigrant and citizen, LGBT and straight, alike.
The legislation includes provisions important to AAPI LGBTs, including: a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants; elimination of the backlog of family visas; elimination of the one-year deadline to file for asylum; and some specific improvements for conditions in detention centers. Unfortunately, the immigration package also strikes a twofold blow to AAPI LGBT families. The deal ends sibling sponsorship and family sponsorship for married children over 30. After bitter negotiation, it also fails to include the sponsorship privileges for foreign same-sex partners of Americans that married straight couples enjoy.
The vote comes on the heels of a celebrated historic victory for marriage equality at the Supreme Court on Wednesday. The ruling resolves immigration issues for certain binational same-sex couples, but NQAPIA continues to fight for all those affected by the broken immigration system. At least 267,000 undocumented immigrants LGBT, a population that is disproportionately Asian. As crowds cheered on the steps of the Supreme Court for the ruling that overturned the Defense of Marriage Act and sent California’s Proposition 8 packing, NQAPIA delivered over 2,700 postcards to the Senate in support of comprehensive immigration reform.
Joined by Tony Choi, an openly gay undocumented immigrant from Korea, NQAPIA gave postcards directly to Tony’s Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), a member of the “Gang of Eight” who pushed the legislation through, as well as Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), the first openly lesbian Senator.
“History has been made on two different fronts.” said Ben de Guzman, NQAPIA Co-Director for Programs. “We have been at the center of all the action on both comprehensive immigration reform and marriage equality this week. We have never been a single issue community, and today we prove that the movement can walk and chew gum at the same time. Now we take the fight from the Supreme Court and the Senate to the House, the next battleground for 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
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.