Immigration Corner

On February 16, just two days before the expanded DACA was supposed to open, a federal district court in the Southern District of Texas temporarily blocked its implementation. As of March, the district court in Texas still has not ruled on the government’s request for an emergency stay.  As a result, the Department of Justice is seeking an emergency stay from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans. As of April, the court has not yet issued its decision, but we need these lawful, common-sense policies implemented as soon as possible.

What does that mean?

The expanded DACA and DAPA programs are temporarily put on hold until the decision is overturned. The federal government is seeking an emergency stay, so people can apply for the expanded DACA and DAPA programs as soon as possible.

Read more from the National Immigration Law Center: Texas v. US District Court and Asian Americans Advancing Justice Coalition: Immigration relief after Texas v. United States.

Why did this happen?

In December, 26 attorneys generals and governors filed this lawsuit as an anti-immigrant political and PR stunt. They chose to file this in a very conservative area in Texas and with anti-immigrant U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen.

Texas decided that the federal government had not followed the Administrative Procedures Act’s requirements. The federal government did not use those procedures because the initiatives are discretionary—which exempts them from those procedures.

What will be the verdict?

Texas is not following legal precedent. In a public statement, DHS said, “The Department of Justice, legal scholars, immigration experts and even other courts have said that our actions are well within our legal authority.” President Obama has said, “The law is on our side, and history is on our side.”

Read more about potential reactions from other states.

What is the timeline?

We do not know when things will be put off hold, but those who are eligible to apply should continue applying for the original 2012 DACA program and prepare for the expanded DACA program and DAPA program when they do open.

Read more about the stay.

We are expected to hear a ruling from the Fifth Circuit Court any day. At the beginning of July, the courts will hear oral arguments regarding the Department of Justice’s appeal on Judge Hanen’s ruling.

Why does this matter?

There are 11 million undocumented immigrants, and over 1.3 million of them are of Asian descent. There are 4.4 million people waiting in visa backlogs, and 1.6 million of them are in Asia. Nearly 500,000 APIAs may benefit from the expanded DACA and DAPA programs. In all, these programs allow families to stay together and remove fear of deportation.

Read more immigration statistics.

What else is going on?

The Senate tried to defund DACA, DAPA and immigration policy changes dated Nov. 20 or 21, 2014 as well as those made on/after Jan. 9, 2015. Fortunately, Senator Susan Collins’ bill S. 534 failed on procedural vote in the Senate and has been rejected by NCAPA, policy experts, DREAMers, the ACLU, and more.

DHS is funded and will not go through a shutdown. Read more.

Cross Check Arrests and Deportations

From March 1-5, 2015, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) led nationwide raids targeting undocumented immigrants. They arrested 2,059 individuals from 94 countries—majority of the people arrested had misdemeanors. It has been reported that 15  of the people arrested had DACA. Many of those arrested are subject to immediate removal from the US, while others are in ICE custody, awaiting a hearing or pending travel arrangements for removal in the near future. President Obama committed to helping our communities, but the actions of his administration are tearing our families apart. We do not support these operations that promote profiling, detention and deportation of our communities. If you or a community member have been caught in a raid and need support, please contact

Read the DHS press release.

What about visa updates?

On April 1, 2015, USCIS will accept H-1B visas for the fiscal year 2016 cap (65,000). The first 20,000 H-1B petitions filed for individuals with a U.S. master’s degree or higher are exempt from the 65,000 cap. We recommend that you file within the first five business days. If they receive an excess of petitions during that time, they will begin to use a lottery system to randomly select who fits within the cap. Those who do not make the cap will automatically be rejected.

As of May 26, 2015, the spouse and children of H-1B visa holders may apply for an H-4 visa. Those with H-4 visas may obtain a driver’s license, pursue education, open a bank account, and may obtain a tax ID for employment purposes.

Read a commendation from NCAPA.

What is NQAPIA’s work on immigration?

You can find out more about NQAPIA’s work on immigration here.

President Obama issued a request for information on the subject of modernizing and streamlining the US visa system. NQAPIA provided feedback in regards to streamlining visa processing for family-sponsored and employment-based immigrant visas, operational changes for visa petitions, how to fully and fairly allocate visas each year, sharing priorities in data collection, and more. We are waiting for a response from USCIS. Check out NQAPIA Comments for Visa Modernization RFI.

We also released factsheets to help you better understand President Obama’s Executive Order including the expanded DACA and DAPA. Factsheets are in English, Chinese, and Hindi.

We are working to ensure all LGBTQ communities are included in upcoming relief. Tell President Obama, Don’t Discriminate Against LGBTQ Immigrants. Join NQAPIA, Familia Trans Queer Liberation Movement, and other partners in asking President Obama to include LGBTQ immigrants without children in upcoming relief. Sign the petition!

Join us for RISE UP! Week of Action on Immigration. Demand an end to profiling, detention and deportation of our communities.

NQAPIA is regularly involved in advocacy meetings with DHS and the White House, and we react and respond with the needs of our community. If you would like to work with us on immigration or other issues, please contact

Get updates at our Immigration Corner.

NQAPIA in Solidarity with LGBT Immigration Action at White House

September 10, 2014- Many of our friends in the LGBT movement gathered at the White House yesterday to raise their voices in disappointment over President Obama’s recent announcement that he will wait until after the November midterm elections before issuing executive action on immigration. While we know that the ongoing intransigence of the House of Representative’s leadership has brought us to this stalemate, President Obama has prioritized political expediency over doing the right thing by the 11 million undocumented and their families.

NQAPIA stands in solidarity with the organizations including Immigration Equality, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, GetEqual, Freedom to Marry, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, United We Dream, League of United Latin American Citizens that are taking to the streets, to Pennsylvania Avenue, and to Capitol Hill. We too have taken to the streets, to the House of Representatives, and to the White House in recent actions to call for immigration reform that provides relief for LGBT immigrants. In recent weeks, we have joined Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific lslander (AAPI) and other immigrant community advocates in escalating action on the White House and the Congress.

Ben de Guzman at 9.4.14 AAPI Press Conference

Ben de Guzman at 9.4.14 AAPI Press Conference

NQAPIA joins AAPI and Immigrant Rights Fight for Families March

NQAPIA joins AAPI and Immigrant Rights Fight for Families March

One of these actions marked a particular moment in the LGBT and AAPI communities on Thursday, Septmeber 4 as Ben de Guzman, NQAPIA Co-Director for Programs delivered 2,776 postcards to Gautam Raghavan from the White House Office of Public Engagement, calling for immigration reform. This hand-off signaled one of the last public actions for both men, as both Ben and Gautam announced their stepping down from NQAPIA and the White House respectively. NQAPIA is proud of Ben’s service and is also sad to see Gautam go, after working with him as the White House’s liaison to both the AAPI and LGBT communities for a number of years.

NQAPIA delivers 2,700 postcards on immigration to the White House

NQAPIA delivers 2,700 postcards on immigration to the White House

While these two public servants step off this stage with our best wishes, NQAPIA will continue to fight for immigrants’ rights. As Ben noted at a press conference last week, “This is not about politics, this is about people’s lives.”

Immigration Update: Where We’re at and What You Can Do

The national debate about immigration stands at a crossroads as we celebrate LGBT Pride month. We have moved the ball further than ever before, but with the midterm elections coming up in November, unless the Congress moves in June or July, nothing will happen legislatively this year. We are pushing the Congress to pass immigration reform legislation and the President to do what he can as well, but we need your help.

The AAPI community has mobilized locally and nationally for immigrants’ rights.  Yet, the LGBT movement has lost considerable steam after a victory for family petitions for married binational couples as a result of the Supreme Court decision on marriage equality last June.  Wrangling from conservatives in the House of Representatives has stalled legislation from moving forward.

NQAPIA and our Asian and Latino allies are still fighting for immigrants’ rights on the legislative front because it is the most assured way of giving legal status to 11 million undocumented immigrants, of which 1 million are AAPI and half a million are LGBT.

Legislation Adopted by the United States Senate

A year ago the Senate passed an immigration bill.  It is a good start with expanded visa programs, a path to citizenship for the undocumented, and some legal protections, but there are also problematic heavy enforcement provisions, which should be removed.

Engaging The White House

The President has actively campaigned for comprehensive immigration reform, but a record 2 million immigrants have still been deported.  The President has an ability to act in the short term.  In collaboration with the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, NQAPIA brought LGBT AAPI immigrants and representatives of local LGBT AAPI organizations to Washington DC for a special roundtable meeting with the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.  We provided a variety of recommendations that the President can order to improve the lives of immigrants and their families.

Moving the House of Representatives

Last year, NQAPIA delivered 5,403 postcards to Congress calling for immigration reform. Thanks to our local partners, scores of volunteers, organizers from the Task Force, and supporters like you, NQAPIA undertook one of the largest grassroots mobilizations among AAPI and LGBT national organizations for immigrants’ rights.  But now, our voices are needed again more than ever.

The House of Representatives still continues to drag its heels and we need you to call your Member of Congress and demand that they pass immigration reform this year.  Call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 to be directed to your Member of Congress’ office.  Tell them:

“I live in your district and I am calling to ask my Congressmember to support comprehensive immigration reform.  I support legislation that: 1) provides a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants; 2) keeps families together, 3) protects workers across the wage spectrum; and 4) preserves our civil rights and due process protections.”

Please call in the month of June.  There is no pride in being undocumented, deported, or in losing a visa.   But there is much pride in winning new rights and protections for LGBT AAPIs across the country.

NQAPIA Partners Come to Washington, DC: Bringing the Local Flavor

Photo Caption: NQAPIA partners with staff from the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus


The flurry of activities in Washington, DC around Asian American/ Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month continued this week, but took on a distinctly queer tone as local partners from NQAPIA’s network came to the nation’s capital to take part in the action happening here.

NQAPIA board and staff joined representatives from Satrang in Los Angeles, DeQH in Madison, i2i in Chicago, VAYLA in New Orleans, GAPIMNY in New York, and PrYSM in Providence in Washington to bring their local stories and their local concerns to national policymakers. On Monday, May 12, we joined other community advocates from around the country co-convened by NQAPIA in collaboration with the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA) and the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to a special roundtable with the Department of Homeland Security. We joined our straight and cis-gender allies from other AAPI communities to bring our LGBT perspectives to bear at an important time as the agency is now reviewing its policies around deportations.

The following day, NQAPIA partners, joined by our allies at OCA: Asian Pacific American Advocates, and Asian Americans Advancing Justice: AAJC, had eleven meetings with offices of members of Congress to talk about immigrants’ rights and the issues happening in our communities. We met with members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus as LGBT constituents, and also met with members of the LGBT Equality Caucus, as AAPIs and immigrants.

By making sure that our AAPI brothers and sisters know of our concerns as LGBT people, and that our LGBT allies continue to keep immigration as a priority, our local partners made a unique impact in their short time in Washington, DC.



Check out some of the pictures below!







NQAPIA Celebrates AAPI Heritage Month- Washington, DC Style

caption: George Takei, with Greg Cendana from the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance and NQAPIA’s own Ben de Guzman

May, as Asian American/ Pacific Islander Heritage Month, is celebrated in Washington, DC every year with a series of events that highlight the best and brightest in the community. High end receptions, smart discussions of cutting edge issues, and rubbing elbows with leaders and celebrities from around the country is par for the course.

This year, LGBT communities are playing a key role in much of the festivities. The White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders kickoff on Tuesday, May 6, included swearing in of the new members of the President’s Advisory Commission of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, including openly LGBT commissioners Michael Byun and actor Maulik Pancholy.  Hector Vargas served as an openly LGBT Commissioner since 2011 and stepped down as his service completed. Vice President Joe Biden addressed the audience at the Department of the Interior, as did a panel of leaders, including Pancholy as well as AAPI LGBT rockstar Helen Zia.

The Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies celebrated it’s 20th anniversary at their Gala later that night. The legendary George Takei gave a keynote address, and straight allies Paul Song, head of the Courage Campaign, and his wife, media personality Lisa Ling.


caption: NQAPIA friends at APAICS Gala from L-R- Shivana Jorawar (NAPAWF/ KhushDC, Ben de Guzman, Ben Chou (AQUADC), and Bruce Thao (Shades of Yellow)

While it’s easy to have the glitz and glamour distract our attention, the last week or so has also been highlighted by significant news on the policy front that will have real benefits for our communities. On April 29, the Department of Education issued guidance clarifying protections for transgender students under Title IX. This week, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Attorney General Eric Holder announced guidance that will keep the schoolhouse doors open for students regardless of immigration status.

At a roundtable with Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, NQAPIA and other AAPI leaders brought community concerns to the highest levels of the government. Next week, NQAPIA will be leading a delegation of queer AAPI advocates from around the country to another roundtable with the Department of Homeland Security and to meetings with Congressional offices. Keep an eye out for the latest from NQAPIA at these events via Facebook and Twitter.

It’s important to recognize heritage and celebrate progress we’ve made, but we know it’s also important that policy victories that make real change are what we fight for and make the celebrations all the sweeter.

White House: Inside and Outside

This week, Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander (AAPI) LGBT people spent a lot of time engaging the White House on a range of issues. On Thursday April 24, the White House honored the most recent round of “Champions of Change,” recognizing AAPI advocates who worked to improve access to health care in our communities. NQAPIA was on hand as Bruce Thao, who is an Advisor for Shades of Yellow, was recognized as a Champion of Change for his work at Hmong National Development.

WHChamps 24April2014

caption: Shades of Yellow’s own Bruce Thao at the White House (second from the right)


Later that afternoon, the White House continued to recognize another set of individuals from the community as it named fourteen new members of the Advisory Commission for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Among the fourteen were openly LGBT people like Michael Byun from ASIA Ohio, one of the major direct service agencies for AAPIs in the Midwest, and the actor Maulik Pancholy. They will undoubtedly build on the work their predecessor Hector Vargas from the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association.

On April 25, dozens of immigrants’ rights activists converged on the White House on the outside this time, calling on the President and the Department of Homeland Security to designate “temporary protected status” for Philippine nationals in the aftermath of Hurricane Haiyan.  The rally included people from the Relief 2 Recovery coalition, the #Not1More campaign, the National Domestic Workers Alliance, and the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA). NQAPIA Co-Director Ben de Guzman addressed the crowd on behalf of NCAPA, saying “We know that relief means relief for gay and straight alike!”

NQAPIA continues to work on immigration issues and will be bringing a number of local partners back to Washington, DC to continue to bring AAPI LGBT perspectives to bear with representatives from the White House in May as part of Asian American/ Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Keep an eye out for the latest we’ve got going on via our blog, on Facebook, or Twitter.


Intern Blog: NQAPIA at the White House for AAPI Heritage Month

This is the first in a series of blog posts by NQAPIA 2013 Summer Intern, Steven.  Welcome aboard, Steven!


My name is Steven Cong, and I’m a 1.5 generation, queer Chinese American student at UC Berkeley. This summer, I have had the wonderful opportunity of building my professional development as an intern for NQAPIA. Within my first week of work, I received more opportunities to strengthen my networks and improve my skill-sets than I would have first imagined.

I still find myself processing the fact that I saw President Barack Obama in person at a White House reception for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month during my very first day of work. I also had the chance to see renowned queer AAPI s like dancer Dana Tai Soon Burgess,  writer Helen Zia, and White House staffers Jason Tengco and Gautam Raghavan at the event. With that inspiring LGBT and AAPI representation, I had the privilege of being affirmed as a queer person of color in the United States, which excites me for more great experiences to come this summer.


Video:  President’s speech at White House AAPI Heritage Month Event, 5/28/2013

Capture. POTUS Video AAPIHM 28May2013

AAPI and LGBT Events for 2013 Inauguration








Washington, DC will welcome thousands of visitors for President Obama’s Inauguration.   The weekend of the 57th Inauguration will feature a wide range of events, and NQAPIA has been tracking activities that have special interest for AAPI and LGBT communities.

NQAPIA is NOT officially connected to any of these events, this list is only information we have gathered from a variety of partners and allies.  Please contact event organizers directly for more information.

Are you coming to Washington, DC?  Let us know!  Our NQAPIA family in the nation’s capital is eager to welcome you!


Looking forward,


Ben de Guzman, NQAPIA Co-Director for Programs


Thursday, January 17

National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) Open House

Time: 5-7PM

Cost:  Free (RSVP)

Location: 1100 H St. NW, Suite 540

Wine and cheese reception to celebrate a new year and a new office. Please RSVP to Eleanor Palacios at


Friday, January 18

White House LGBT Policy Briefing

Time:  9:00am- 12:00pm

Cost:  Free (RSVP required)

Location: Herbert Clark Hoover Building Auditorium

1401 Constitution Ave, NW


The White House Office of Public Engagement invites you to a policy briefing and engagement forum focused on issues of importance to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community.


AAPI Inaugural Welcome Briefing

White House Initiative

Cost:  Free

Time: 2-6PM

Location: U.S. Department of Education, Barnard Auditorium, 400 Maryland Ave., SW

The White House Initiative on Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) and the White House Office of Public Engagement invite you to a briefing and discussion focused on issues of importance to the AAPI community.  Senior Obama Administration officials will share first term accomplishments, hear feedback from participants, and discuss opportunities to work together in the months and years ahead.

Click here to RSVP.  You are welcome to share this invitation with your friends and colleagues, but please note that seating is limited.


Inauguration Kick Off Happy  Hour

Presented by Night Life Agency with South Asians for Obama and the Washington Leadership Program

Cost:  Free

Time:  7-10pm

Location: Josephine

1008 Vermont Avenue, NW

Come celebrate, mingle, and network with top South Asian Americans from the campaign, in the Administration, and on the Hill!


Saturday, January 19

Salu-Salo (“get together”)-  Kaya: Filipino Americans for Progress Planning Meeting

Time: 8:30- 11:00am

Cost:  Free (donations accepted)

Location:  National Education Association

1201 16th Street, NW (at M Street)


This will be a planning meeting for Kaya: Filipino Americans for Progress for activities in the coming year. For more information, e-mail Marita Etcubañez at


APAICS (Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies) welcomes new CAPAC Members to 113th Congress

Time: 1-3PM

Cost: Free

Location: Communication Workers of America, 501 3rd Street, NW, Washington, DC, 20001

Please join APAICS in welcoming the new AAPI Members of Congress on Saturday January 19, 2013 at 1 pm.  There will be a short program with Mayor Ed Lee of San Francisco and new AAPI members Representative Ami Bera and Representative Mark Takano.


Forward. LGBT Democrats Celebrate President Obama’s Inauguration

Cocktail Reception hosted by the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, the DC Center and Trans United for Obama

Time: 5-7pm

Location: Black Fox Lounge

1723 Connecticut Ave., NW

Celebrate with the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, Trans United for Obama, and the DC LGBT Center at Black Fox Lounge.


SAALT (South Asian Americans Leading Together) Inauguration Reception

Time: 6-8pm

Cost:  $75

Location: National Association of Broadcasters, 1771 N Street NW, Washington, DC 20036

Network with DC’s thought leaders and opinion shapers at SAALT’s Jan 19th inauguration reception, including Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA) and White House AAPI Initiative Executive Director Kiran Ahuja.


Indiaspora Inaugural Ball

Time: 8PM

Cost: $300

Location: Mandarin Oriental — 1330 Maryland Ave SW

Leaders from the 3-million-strong Indian American community, compatriots from India and American well-wishers will celebrate the combined achievements of the two nations and cultures. Guests may choose traditional “black tie” or Indian formal attire.


Hawai’i Presidential Center Inaugural Gala

Time: 7-10pm

Location: The Hay-Adams Hotel, Rooftop Terrace


Contact AJ Halagao the gala organizer at


Mabuhay: Inauguration Event by Kaya: Filipino Americans for Progress

Time: 7-10pm

Location: Cause- The PhilanthroPub

(Upstairs Tree House Room)

1926 9th Street, NW (9th and U)


Join Filipino American progressives in celebration of the inauguration of President Barack Obama.


LezGetTogether’s Pre-Inaugural Bash in Celebration of Equality

Time: 7:00 – 11:00pm

Local 16 (1602 U St., NW, Washington, DC)



Sunday, January 20


Center for Black Equity Happy Hour

MOVA (14th street)

Sunday 1/20 3-5pm

The Center for Black Equity works with African American LGBT organizations.


Philippine Embassy Reception

INVITE ONLY (contact for more information)

Time:  4pm


Presidential Pearl Gala


Time 8:30 am – 1pm

Location: Mandarin Oriental, Ballroom C, 1330 Maryland Ave, SW, Washington DC 20024


There will be a variety of panels during the morning’s briefing.

Please join us for the 10:15 am session on AAPIs and Policy Change. This session will be moderated by Deepa Iyer, NCAPA Chair and SAALT Executive Director, and feature Kathy Ko Chin, APIAHF President and CEO, and Mee Moua, AAJC Executive Director.



Date Sunday, January 20, 2013

Time 7pm to midnight

Location Mandarin Oriental, 1330 Maryland Ave, SW, Washington DC 20024

Purchase Tickets: Click


Peace Ball

Time: 7:30PM – 1AM

Location: Arena Stage, 1101 6th Street Southwest, Washington, DC 20024

Tickets $135+ processing fee

Confirmed Guests: Angela Davis, Amy Goodman, Ralph Nader, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Alice Walker, Van Jones, Sonia Sanchez, Danny Glover, Nicole Lee, Avis Jones-DeWeever, Julian Bond, Marian Wright Edelman, Medea Benjamin, Etan Thomas, Dave Zirin, Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr., Barbara Ehrenreich, Phyllis Bennis, Jack Halberstam and more!

LGBT & Lesbian Ladies Love Obama Inauguration Party (Alero Lounge @ 3345 14th St NW )

The Ladies Who Love Ladies Love Obama!

Time: 10:30pm-3am

Cost: $10 before 11 & $15 After

Strictly For Women!

More Info @


Monday, January 21

LGBT Out for Equality Inaugural Celebration

Time: 8pm

Location: Renaissance Mayflower Hotel — 1127 Connecticut Ave NW

Tickets start at $375.

NQAPIA Meets with White House on Immigration

NQAPIA joined members of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA) at a meeting with key White House policy staff to discuss immigration and the Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community.

NCAPA, as the leading national coalition of AAPI advocacy organizations, has engaged the White House on immigration issues on a consistent basis, bringing to bear the collective expertise and experience of its thirty one members.  NCAPA’s positions on immigration are articulated in the 2012 NCAPA Policy Platform.

Since 2010, NQAPIA and its local partners have actively engaged immigration and immigrants’ rights in AAPI and LGBT communities.  We look forward to bringing even more attention to this issue in 2013 as immigration becomes a hot button issue.

On December 10, NQAPIA joined over 50 other organizations to urge the Obama Administration to hold in abeyance applications for lawful permanent residence that would be approved were it not for the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) until the Supreme Court decides its constitutionality.  The letter is available online here.


Portland LGBT Immigration Forum: November 2010


NQAPIA Submits Statement at Senate Hearing on Hate Crimes

On September 19, NQAPIA joined a standing room only audience (which spilled over into an overflow room) to witness the Senate Hearing on Hate Crimes and Domestic Extremism.  The hearing focused on hate crimes, particularly in the aftermath of the devastating shooting of a Sikh gurdwara (temple) in Oak Creek, WI.


NQAPIA submitted testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will now be included in the proceedings from the Hearing.  The testimony is below.

Included as part of its testimony is the  joint statement of solidarity from the LGBT community that NQAPIA drafted and was signed by over 30 national and local LGBT organizations from around the country.


photo credit: SAALT


Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights

815 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510


Re:            Hearing, September 19, 2012, Hate Crimes and the Threat of Domestic Extremism

Dear Subcommittee Members:

The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) applauds the Subcommittee on holding today’s hearing on this very important topic.  Events around the country and abroad have put these issues of intolerance and extremism at the top of the news, and we think it is important to call for reasoned voices and non-violence to address the issues of the day.  As a federation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) organizations, we know the impact of violence in our communities because we are subject to the intersections of racism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, and anti-religious sentiment.   

The unconscionable rise of violence in recent months that has devastated our communities has made these intersections and their impacts real for NQAPIA and the communities we serve.  The South Asian LGBT organizations we work with tell us all too real stories about discrimination and bigotry they face, not only because of the color of their skin and their religious traditions, but also because of how they live their lives as LGBT people in their families and communities.  Our work with faith partners such as the Queer Muslim Working Group reveals the impact that not only anti-Muslim sentiment from religious fundamentalists has on our communities, but the impact of homophobia and transphobia as well.

NQAPIA drafted an LGBT sign-on letter that over 30 local and national organizations joined in solidarity with the victims of the August 5 shooting at the Sikh gurdwara in Oak Creek, WI and the August 6 fire at a mosque in Joplin, MO to specifically articulate the impact that such violence has on us as LGBT communities (that letter is included here as part of our statement of record).  The debates around extremism and violence only became more fraught with urgency when a gunman shot at the Family Research Council a few short days later and we joined another statement from the LGBT community to oppose violence as a means of resolving differences.

Hate crimes continue to be a serious problem.  Recent FBI statistics that document over 6,600 hate crimes may actually be undercounting the severity of the problem.  A 2005 study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics suggests that the actual figures may be as high as 15 times what is being reported.  The domestic extremism that opens up the political and cultural space to somehow rationalize violence and hate crimes has no place in our communities.  We know that religious freedom and First Amendment protections are not mutually exclusive and that both can and must be held in balance to ensure our civil liberties.

Violent acts that target people for the characteristics that make them different defy the pluralism that makes America thrive.  The intersections of hate violence and domestic extremism are complex and we commend you for taking this on.  They encompass a range of issues related to homophobia, xenophobia, and anti-religious sentiment both locally, and in an international context.  We urge the Committee to make findings on the causes of and solutions to this violence and to take action to prevent hate before it is too late to act.  The times that we live in demand solutions that think big and refuse to oversimplify and we stand ready to work with you to create and implement those solutions.



Ben de Guzman

Co-Director for Programs

National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance