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 Statement on the Senate’s Passage of ENDA

The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) applauds the Senate’s passage of S 815, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).  The Senate’s 64-32 vote today represents historic progress on the march for full equality under the law for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people.  For the first time, a body of Congress has passed ENDA legislation that includes protections for transgender people. 

Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) who are LGBT face unique challenges and will benefit from this legislation.  The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force reports that a full 98% of AAPI LGBT respondents experienced at least one form of discrimination in their lives, with 75% reporting discrimination based on sexual orientation. According to a study from the Williams Institute, the unemployment rate for AAPIs who are LGBT (11%) is higher than that of non-LGBT AAPIs (8%). 

“Today’s vote represents an important victory for the LGBT community,” said Ben de Guzman, Co-Director of Programs for NQAPIA.  “In 29 states, you can still be fired simply for being LGBT, and 34 states lack employment protections for transgender people.  We are concerned about overreaching religious exemptions and are glad that the Senate voted down some of the more extreme provisions.  As the bill moves to the House, we continue to push for the strongest protections possible that are not unnecessarily watered down in the name of religious freedom.”


As many of us continue to celebrate a hard-fought and overdue victory with the court decisions on DOMA and Prop 8, it is important to remember that the battle for equality is not over. In the workplace, members of the LGBT community still face discrimination and harassment on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. When so many of our people lose their jobs and experience derision in the workplace, they are not valued for their ability in the same way as everyone else and are treated as second-class citizens.

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Intern Blog: Senate Debate on Immigration Reform

By Steven

During Monday’s debate on S.744, which is the Senate bill on immigration reform, I heard arguments that made me cringe. At the debate, a senator tried to invalidate paths to citizenship by claiming that though “we are a nation of immigrants, we are also a nation of laws.” While that is true, some of our laws used to claim that slaves were less than people and that the Chinese should be excluded from the nation. The idea behind our legislative system is that laws would not be permanent, and that they should be subject to refinement or removal if they no longer serve the needs of our people.

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