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.
The President’s Immigration Action paved a path for administrative relief for many people in our communities. It also created a new set of priorities for immigration enforcement that have resulted in thousands of people being profiled, detained, and deported in a matter of months.
Racial and religious profiling is rampant all over the country, including in immigrant communities. There is little to no accountability of law enforcement. The revised Department of Justice’s guidance on profiling sets a standard but has no accountability measures and exempts the Department of Homeland Security’s enforcement agencies.
The Immigration Action states that vulnerable populations should not be prioritized for detention, yet LGBTQ folks continue to be locked away in detention centers where they are harassed and beaten. Trans* folks continue to be housed in centers based on their assigned sex, not gender identity, and put in solitary confinement for their supposed “protection” from others in the detention center.
Communities of color, including Cambodians, continue to be fed into the school-to-deportation pipeline. Many from Cambodian communities are locked away and in the process of being deported back to a country from which they took refuge.
Tell President Obama to hold his administration accountable to ending racial and religious profiling, detention, and deportations.
Help us collect petitions!
Download the President Immigration Enforcement Petition PDF, and send them to email@example.com. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
RiseUp! NQAPIA Week of Action on Immigration
4-5 p.m. EDT/1-2 p.m. PDT
Join us for a twitter chat during our Week of Action on issues impacting LGBT AAPI immigrants & our allies, including profiling, detention, deportation, DACA/DAPA, the executive action, and more.
Tweet under #RiseUpNQAPIA to join in!
Contact email@example.com for more information.
National Call was on Monday, April 13th
A mp3 of the recording will be available asap.
For information please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Transgender Law Center (TLC)
Providence Youth Student Movement (PrYSM)
National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA)
Stop the Deportation of Our Communities
For the last two decades, the federal government has been pursuing an enforcement-first approach to immigration that prioritizes mandatory detention and deportation. The Obama administration is no exception: President Obama has deported more than 2 million individuals, and this number continues to rise. In November 2014, President Obama announced an Executive Order that expands relief beyond DACA to provide nearly 5 million people administrative relief from deportation. This expansion is being challenged in courts and therefore delayed in launch. Even with this relief, millions of families will be left out and still face separation and deportation. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has intensified raids in immigrant communities, deporting thousands of community members, some of whom qualify for relief.
The impact on Southeast Asian refugee communities is often neglected in this massive deportation machine. In response to this, NQAPIA stands firm to elevate the grassroots work of our Southeast Asian partners—PrYSM, Freedom Inc, and SOY—all part of the Southeast Asian Freedom Network (SEAFN), as they launch an international human rights campaign to end US deportations to Cambodia. 2015 marks 40 years since Southeast Asian refugees were displaced by militarism and war and began resettlement in the US. Decades later, people are being deported back to countries they fled or have never stepped foot in.
Chanravy Proeung, National Organizer of SEAFN, stated, “We have been rooted in an intergenerational struggle over the last five decades to keep our families together against unjust forces of US militarism, war, systemic poverty, education inequity, imprisonment, institutionalized racism, discrimination, and deportation. With over 500 Cambodian-American families broken apart since 2002, and over 4000 more awaiting the same fate, our human rights fight today, is deportation.” NQAPIA calls for an end to deportations under the Cambodian Repatriation Act and to all countries until the U.S. implements human and civil rights for all communities.
Uncovering Our Stories: Linda Khoy
“My parents are from Cambodia and fled to America to escape the genocide that took place in the 80s. They both legally arrived here with my older sister, who was barely one at the time. Lundy was born in a Thai refugee camp during the war. I came into their lives under a year later and my brother soon after. Aside from me being gay, I never knew that I was different from my parents or my sister. I knew they carried with them a card that read “Permanent Resident Alien,” and later we soon discovered that there is a huge difference between being a US citizen and a green card holder. We grew up in a very strict household and my parents did the best they could with raising Asian American children, keeping the Cambodian values while trying to adapt the American way. When Lundy was barely 19 years old, while she was in college and in her experimental phase like most college kids, she made a mistake by carrying a few ecstasy pills for her and her friends. Her honesty that our parents instilled in us changed the course of her future. She is 32 years old now, and due to the lack of judicial discretion that immigrations judges have, her mistake is considered an aggravated felony, which is an automatic ground for deportation if you are not a US citizen to a country she has never set foot in.” Read Linda and Lundy’s story.
- 40 Years Later: US Human Rights Violations & the Deportation of Cambodian-American Refugees
- 1 Love Movement
- Southeast Asian Freedom Network: Facebook and Twitter
- #Not1More Deportation
- The Growth of the US Deportation Machine by American Immigration Council
We want to concentrate our conversation on the deportation of Southeast Asian communities. The following are videos that are strong conversation starters, along with questions to guide your conversation.
- Given the example of SEAFN in needing to understand the root causes of deportation in order to build grassroots movement against it… What do you believe are the root causes of deportation in your community?
- The criminalization of Southeast Asians in the U.S. pushed our communities into the deportation pipeline. What are other ways that people in your community get trapped into deportation proceedings?
- Deportation is part of a larger narrative of forced Southeast Asian migration, beginning with the onset of wars in Southeast Asia. How does militarism and imperialism affect the migration of your communities to the United States?
- SEAFN and the movement against Cambodian deportation was started by Southeast Asian queer folks and women. What role do you see queer and trans APIs play in the struggle for just immigration policies?
Sign the Petition to End Deportations Here!
Southeast Asian Freedom Network (SEAFN) is a national collective of Southeast Asian grassroots groups working towards radical and transformational change led by those most impacted by systemic injustice.
Download the NQAPIA & SEAFN End Deportation Fact Sheet.
End Immigration Detention for Vulnerable People
Violations of immigration laws are a civil violation, and those in violation are detained in detention facilities as non-criminals. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is responsible for immigrant detention facility, though over 67% of people detained are housed in county prisons, city prisons, and private facilities. Many in detention facilities face poor conditions and have no due process rights. Many undocumented and documented people in detention centers have been in the U.S. for years.
Under the November 2014 Executive Order on immigration, DHS issued a memo emphasizing the discretion DHS enforcement agencies have in detaining individuals. Under this memo, vulnerable communities should be considered for alternatives to detention. Yet, LGBTQI individuals, families, survivors of torture, asylum seekers, pregnant women, victims of human trafficking, and other vulnerable people continue to be detained.
NQAPIA is especially concerned with trans* folks who continue to be marginalized and made especially vulnerable in immigration detention centers. Most centers continue to house individuals according to sex, making violence and abuse a daily reality for trans* folks. Some centers see solitary confinement as a way to protect individuals, but in reality, such treatment subjects them to inhumane mental and emotional conditions. Cells designated specifically for trans* folks are still very far in between, forcing individuals to be detained far from their families and support systems. We must stop to the expansion of detention centers, and end detention for vulnerable communities, including the LGBT community.
#Not1More Campaign: Nicoll Hernandez-Polanco
“Nicoll Hernandez-Polanco (A# 089 841 646), a transgender woman from Guatemala, is currently being detained in the all-male wing of ICE’s Florence Service Processing Detention facility in Florence, Arizona. Nicoll came to the United States seeking asylum in October 2014 because she was the target of violent attacks, constant harassment, and discrimination in her country of origin. Unfortunately, at the hands of ICE, Nicoll is now being subjected to the same treatment she seeks protection from.
In her first month in detention, Nicoll was patted down 6-8 times a day by male guards, who Nicoll reported would grope her breasts and buttocks, make offensive sexual comments and gestures, and sometimes pull her hair. In addition to physically harassing Nicoll, ICE staff routinely verbally abuse her. She has been called “stupid,” and “the woman with balls” in front of other detained immigrants.”
Read more about Nicoll’s case.
Sign the petition to demand her release.
- Detention Watch Network
- Dignity Denied: LGBT Immigrants in US Immigration Detention by Center for American Progress
- Why Did the US Lock Up These Women With Men? A Fusion Investigation
Many Southeast Asians, Pacific Islanders, South Asians, and Asians are targeted and caught in immigration detention facilities that are a part of the prison industrial complex. We do not have many stories or data of AAPI communities in immigration detention, but we know there are community members in the system. It is important for our queer AAPI communities to discuss these issues, so we can support all people unfairly detained and uncover stories of our community members in immigration detention facilities.
Start your discussion with stories, cases, videos, and reports from our resources section. Humanize the reality of LGBTQI folks in detention.
- If you watch a video or share a story, ask people how they feel with what they saw or heard.
- Have people been in or heard of those who have been in immigration detention centers? If so, have people share whatever they feel comfortable sharing.
- Have you heard of the prison industrial complex? What does this term mean to you? Do you agree that it exists? Why or why not?
- How does immigration detention and/or the prison industrial complex impact your community?
- What can be done locally to fight the prison industrial complex including immigration detention?
Sign the Petition to End Immigration Detention Here.
Download the NQAPIA End Immigration Detention Fact Sheet
End the use of racial and religious profiling
Our communities have been the targets of profiling by law enforcement based on various dimensions and intersections of our social identities. Under the immigration enforcement regime, South Asian, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and Southeast Asian communities have continued to be especially vulnerable, being subject to unjust profiling based on race, religion, and national origin—real and perceived.
The Department of Justice Guidance for Federal Law Enforcement Agencies Regarding the Use of Race, Ethnicity, Gender, National Origin, Religion, Sexual Orientation, or Gender Identity is an attempt at a guideline for federal law enforcement agencies to curtail rampant profiling. Citing the routine reason of protecting national and border security, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Transportation Security Administration (TSA), among several others, are exempt from these guidelines. This exemption continues to give license to some of the most egregious, profile-based policing in our country, including the targeting of our community as perceived “terrorists” and “gang members.” This deprives already vulnerable communities of their civil liberties, and opens the doors to massive detention and deportation.
Many Muslim communities also face profiling within the immigration visa processing. Individuals are profiled by their last names and country of origin and put through extra screening and interviews, resulting in backlogs in the immigration system. There is no space for compromise; we need clear policies that hold all agencies accountable for their unconstitutional profiling practices and demand action on all complaints of improper profiling in the immigration system. There is no space for compromise; end racial and religious profiling for all communities. Close the loopholes in the DOJ Guidance for Federal Law Enforcement Agencies Regarding the Use of Race, Ethnicity, Gender, National Origin, Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity that allow DHS, CBP, and TSA to continue profiling.
What is Racial Profiling?
Racial profiling is when police or government agents use race, ethnicity, national origin, or religion to decide whom to stop, question, or arrest. Racial profiling is humiliating, harmful, and makes us less safe. Here are some of the ways racial profiling is used today:
- War on Drugs: For the past 40 years, Black, Latino, and Southeast Asian people have been targeted by police under the “War on Drugs,” even though studies consistently show that white people are just as likely (or more likely) to use and sell drugs.
- War on Terror: Since September 11, 2001, members of Arab, Muslim, and South Asian communities have increasingly been searched, interrogated, detained, and deported by Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and local police in the name of “national security.”
- Criminalizing Immigrants: Members of immigrant communities are targeted by police under the guise of immigration enforcement. State laws like Arizona’s SB1070 and collaborations between Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) and local police encourage racial profiling.
Uncovering Our Stories: Maya Jafer
“I was born and raised in the south of India in Madurai, Tamil Nadu with my parents, older brother and younger sister. I was born into a very religious Muslim family. My parents gave me the name Mohammed Gulam Hussain though now, as a post-operative transsexual female, I am Maya Jafer. My journey to the US began in 2000, at the age of 30, when I moved to Seattle on an F-1 student visa to complete my second doctorate in Natural Medicine. The past decade has been a tremendous struggle for me. Though I entered this country legally, I faced intense discrimination as a Muslim in the post-9/11 world. My last name—Hussain—did not help, and I often dealt with interrogations concerning my perceived (and false) association with Saddam Hussein. I often wished for stronger protections against this profiling and discrimination in immigration and law enforcement.”
Read Maya’s story at www.nqapia.org/uncovering-our-stories-maya-jafer
- Get YR Rights Network
- It Starts at Home: Confronting Anti-Blackness in South Asian Communities by the Queer South Asian National Network
- Rights Working Group
- South Asian American Leading Together
Queer Asian, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander communities face forms of profiling. However, at this time with the horrendous police killings of Black people in the US, it is important to focus on how Black lives are targeted by the police. We must work in solidarity as AAPI communities to support Black communities.
All over the country, numerous trans* folks of color have also been profiled and killed by police officers; increased community raids in immigrant communities profile “undocumented” and so called “dangerous” immigrants; and Islamophobia has heighted hate crimes with profiling of South Asian and Muslim community members.
Take advantage of the Week of Action to connect the issues and focus on the impact of profiling in your area. We recommend you start by sharing stories, watching a film, or talking about current cases in your community. Use the resources provided in this factsheet or videos in the “Other Resources” section to start a dialogue, and use the questions below to guide your discussion.
- If you watch a video or share a story, ask people how they feel with what they saw or heard.
- What are your personal experiences with racial and/or religious profiling? Have you been profiled or witnessed profiling? How did it make you feel?
- Through media and social media the world has witnessed the killing of Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Tony Robinson and countless others who have lost their lives to police profiling and brutality. How has your community reacted to the loss of these innocent lives?
- Does colorism/racism in our Asian (American) communities impact the systematic use of racial profiling by police officers? If so, how? If not, why not?
- What experiences does the community-at-large have with profiling? How does this impact your queer AAPI community?
- Does profiling fit into the larger system of detention and/or deportation of people of color? If so, how? If not, why not?
- What are some solutions to racial and religious profiling in your community?
- Are there ways you can act locally to stop racial and religious profiling in your community? How can you support current efforts?
Sign the Petition to End Racial and Religious Profiling HERE!
Download the NQAPIA End Racial Profiling Fact Sheet.
Together, as NQAPIA, we’ve made great accomplishments working for immigrant rights. We advocated for CIR while pushing for administrative reform. After years of pressure from the immigrant rights movement, in November 2014, the President announced his Executive Order for administrative relief, which included deferred action programs for childhood arrivals and parents of legal residents and changes in the visa programs. NQAPIA submitted comments for the Visa Modernization Task Force to expand visa programs and started educating our community on who qualifies for relief.
Even with this victory, we knew we had work to do. Many LGBTQ communities and those with criminal convictions were left out. We started to push President Obama to create a more inclusive action. In February, things took a turn for the worse. Immigration opposition groups filed for an injunction that put the expanded deferred action from deportation program on hold. NOW, the administration is using its Priority Enforcement Program to launch massive attacks on immigrant communities—profiling, detaining, and deporting thousands of individuals while Congress pushes for the more deportations
NQAPIA continues to work for expanded visas, protection of asylum seekers, and inclusion of LGBTQ communities in administrative relief. For RISE UP! NQAPIA Week of Action on Immigration we concentrate our efforts!
- Educate the community on administrative relief. Defend the expanded programs and help those who qualify for current relief apply. Prepare those who qualify for expanded programs so they can apply after the delay.
- Fight to end racial profiling, detention of vulnerable communities and the deportation of all our communities.
RISE UP! April 12th-18th, 2015 Join NQAPIA to end profiling, detention, and deportation
The 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) program is available. Help people apply for DACA now, and educate people on how to prepare for the upcoming expanded DACA and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) programs. Our Asian, South Asian, and Southeast Asian communities have the lowest enrollment rates in comparison to those who qualify for the current DACA program. Most of our community members just don’t know. Help us raise awareness by hosting an event!
It’s easy: get your board, gather a few volunteers, ask from friends to join and call your members, friends, and family. We’ll help you create a list of people to call and provide a sample phone script. Contact email@example.com for more information.
Work with a local legal clinic to hold short consultation sessions. Help your community understand if they benefit from the new programs or visa changes. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you need help contacting a legal clinic.
Find speakers, read stories or watch videos of queer AAPI individuals who fought for DACA.
Provide space for communities to dialogue about issues of race, gender, queerness, and immigration. Focus on racial and religious profiling, detention, and deportation–and take action to pressure the federal government to change their ways. Hosting a conversation can be the perfect way to grow community support for the issues, while providing an interactive and welcoming educational opportunity.
Tips for Hosting a Conversation (includes a sample agenda)
NQAPIA Sign-In Sheet
NQAPIA Racial Profiling Fact Sheet
Racial Profiling Fact Sheet (pdf)
NQAPIA Immigration Detention Fact Sheet
Immigration Detention Fact Sheet (pdf)
NQAPIA & SEAFN No Deportation Fact Sheet
No Deportation Fact Sheet (pdf)
LGBT AAPI Immigration Infographic (png)
Deportation & AAPI Communities Infographic (png)
LGBT AAPI Immigrants & Detention Infographic (png)
Sign up here to help with advocacy and/or to take direct action for immigration & to stop profiling, detention, and deportation. In coming months, we will be advocating for reforms and joining hands with our broader immigrant communities to take direct action. JOIN US!
NQAPIA Rise Up! Social Media Specifics
Documented a film by undocumented Americans
In 2011, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas outed himself as an undocumented immigrant in an essay published in the New York Times Magazine. Documented chronicles his journey to America from the Philippines as a child, his journey through America as an immigration reform activist, and his journey inward as he reconnects with his mother, whom he hasn’t seen in-person in over 20 years. NQAPIA has a Public Performance License. The film includes a discussion curriculum. Please email email@example.com for more information, and give us at least one week to send you a DVD.
This curriculum was created by the Queer South Asian National Network and is an excellent facilitation guide to talk about race, anti-blackness in our communities, and immigration. It can be adapted for other API and immigrant communities.