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Media Release: Immigrants’ Rights are LGBT Rights

MEDIA RELEASE 
For Immediate Release: Friday, March 4, 2016
For More Information, Contact: Glenn Magpantay, 917-439-3158, glenn_magpantay@nqapia.org

LGBT Groups File Amicus Brief at U.S. Supreme Court for Immigrants’ Rights
“Immigrants’ Rights are LGBT Rights”

Washington, DC. Today, the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA), with the pro bono assistance of McDermott Will & Emery LLP, filed an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in the case U.S. v Texas. The case challenged President Obama’s Executive Actions on immigration, which expanded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and created a new Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) program.

The programs could help up to 5 million undocumented immigrants, including 400,000 Asians, to be free from deportation and again work authorization. Lower courts suspended the programs. The programs would specifically benefit undocumented immigrants over 30-years-old who entered the United States as minors (expanded DACA) and undocumented parents of citizen and legal permanent resident children (DAPA).

Tony speaking in New York

Standing in front of the New York Supreme Court,
DACA recepient Tony Choi speaks out against US v TX

NQAPIA’s brief informs the U.S. Supreme Court of the special concerns of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Asian Americans, South Asians, Southeast Asians, and Pacific Islanders (API). An estimated 267,000 undocumented immigrants are LGBT, of which a disproportionate share are API.

According to Glenn D. Magpantay, NQAPIA Executive Director, “The Supreme Court is extremely supportive of LGBT people, and we aim to show how immigration laws and policies have a direct impact on the lives of LGBT people.” He continued, “We also lift up the voices of Asian Pacific Islanders to demonstrate the ethnic diversity of undocumented immigrants.”

The brief draws up the Court’s reasoning in Obergefell v. Hodges, where Justice Kennedy ruled that the Constitution protects same-sex couples to legally marry. The brief discusses the human dignity of LGBT people and the protection of children of LGBT parents. Where the Court holds that same-sex marriage protects LGBT families, NQAPIA argues that the expanded DACA and DAPA programs also protect LGBT families. Family is especially strong among Asian Pacific Islanders.

NQAPIA’s brief highlights the stories of LGBT Asian immigrants:

  • Sandra Meetran is a 16-year-old student in Rhode Island. She is a citizen, but when her father was deported to Laos when she was young, it made her coming out much more challenging. Her family would have benefitted from DAPA.
  • Jose Antonio Vargas is a 34-year-old, Pulitzer-prize winning journalist, filmmaker, and media producer. Jose is undocumented and entered the U.S. when he was 12 from the Philippines. Because he is now over 30, he is ineligible to apply for deferred action from deportation, but he could apply for the expanded DACA.
  • Tony Choi is a 24-year-old, gay, Korean undocumented beneficiary of the original DACA program (for those under 30) from New Jersey. In 2010, his options were to live a closeted life taking care of this mother with cancer or return to Korea where his LGBT identity would subject him to harsh hazing for two years in the mandatory military service. He successfully applied for DACA and has helped dozens of other undocumented youth apply for DACA and continued fighting against deportations.

These stories demonstrate how the expanded DACA and DAPA programs protects LGBT APIs from harassment, discrimination and hardship.

The brief shows how the lower court’s suspension of the programs place LGBT families in extremely difficult circumstances. Undocumented LGBT parents and children must (a) return to their home countries where LGBT people are persecuted, jailed, and even sentenced to death, or (b) parents must leave the United States and abandon their children without any or minimal family support. The expanded DACA and DAPA programs allow undocumented LGBT individuals and LGBT individuals with undocumented family members to stay in the U.S. and keep families together.

Joining NQAPIA as co-signers to the brief are variety of LGBT organizations from various regions of the county, various ethnicities, allies, youth, and transgender groups:

Local LGBT Asian/South Asian Organizations 
Asian Pacific Islander Pride of Portland
Gay Asian and Pacific Islander Men of New York
Gay Asian Pacific Alliance – San Francisco hotpot! Philadelphia
Queer Asian Pacific-Islander Alliance (QAPA) Boston
SALGA-NYC
United Territories of Pacific Islanders Alliance (UTOPIA) Seattle

Local Organizations 
API Chaya – Seattle
Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom (BALIF)
Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement – Los Angeles
New York City Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center
Vietnamese American Young Leaders Association (VAYLA) – New Orleans

National LGBT Organizations 
Immigration Equality
National Center for Transgender Equality
National LGBTQ Task Force
PFLAG National
Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE)
Southerners On New Ground (SONG)
The Trevor Project
Transgender Law Center

The filing of the amicus brief follows up on NQAPIA’s National Week of Action on Immigrants’ Rights in April 2015 in a dozen cities and local protests against the US v. Texas lawsuit in New Orleans and New York City.

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Washington, DC Special Screening of “Documented” and Q&A featuring filmmaker Jose Antonio Vargas- June 1, 2014

We are pleased to present a special screening of Jose Antonio Vargas’ film, “Documented” during its opening weekend in the nation’s capital.

Tickets are general admission- we STRONGLY encourage people to buy tickets online in advance here.
For the Sunday June 1 5pm showing, Jose will be on hand for a Q&A panel with leaders of local and national LGBT, Filipino American, and Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) organizations.Further information is below. Please note: you MUST buy a ticket for general admission to see the film as you would normally in order to stay afterwards for the Q&A.The venue is a small, independent theater, seats will go quickly. We encourage people to come early and stay late!
Information for “Documented” Screening and Q&A Panel
Sunday, June 1, 5pm
West End Theater
2301 M Street, NW
5:00 PM Showing
Panel afterwards featuring local and national advocates, including:
Jose Antonio Vargas, Filmmaker and founder, Define American 
Mara Keisling, Executive Director National Center for Transgender Equality
Marita Etcubanez, Former Co-chair, Kaya: Filipino Americans for Progress- DC Chapter
Ben de Guzman, Co-Director for Programs, National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance 
Co-sponsors
National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA)
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
National Center for Transgender Equality
Kaya: Filipino Americans for Progress- DC Chapter
Asian Pacific Islander Queers United for Action (AQUA-DC)
Asian Pacific Islander Queer Sisters (APIQS)
KhushDC- South Asian LGBT Organization in Washington, DC
Check our our Facebook page here.

Intern Blog: Immigration Is Also Our Issue

By Steven

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to observe a panel on immigration reform that featured Jose Antonio Vargas. I attended the event with two of my friends, both of whom are also AAPI interns in D.C. this summer. At one point during the panel, the moderator framed the current immigration bill as a civil rights movement for Latinos. When he said that, all three of us cringed. I heard stories of undocumented AAPI experiences that belong to a Pakistani child who immigrated for facilities that treat cancer, a Chinese immigrant who overstayed her visa because her father’s rash prevented everyone in their family from being fingerprinted, and more. This issue affects our communities on multiple levels. It’s an AAPI issue that attacks the way our different communities honor family and challenges our claim to being American.

Read more

All LGBT Immigrants Need to be Considered in Immigration Reform

Jose Antonio Vargas and plenary panel at Creating Change (video starts after 40:00)

Jose Antonio Vargas and plenary panel at Creating Change (panel starts after 40:00)

For Immediate Release:  January 29, 2013

 

Contact:

Ben de Guzman

NQAPIA Co-Director for Programs

Phone:  202-422-4909

E-mail:  ben_deguzman@nqapia.org

 

This week, the debate on comprehensive immigration reform took real shape with the Senate introducing a bipartisan framework on principles on Monday, and the President making a statement on Tuesday.

The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) commends the Senate and the President on taking this initial first, bipartisan step.  Immigrants’ rights and the need for comprehensive immigration reform is a top priority for Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander (AAPI) lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) immigrant communities.

Of course, we will continue to work more closely as details emerge and legislation is introduced.  While there are some questions we have about what has been put forth thus far, we recognize that there are some important building blocks in the Senate’s and the President’s proposals.  We’re committed to working on them to support legislation that will benefit not only the AAPI LGBT communities we work with, but will, on balance, move towards a more comprehensive solution for the entire country.

The inclusion of a path to citizenship and relief for the over 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country is a key component of both proposals.  We estimate that 750,000 of those undocumented immigrants are LGBT, and we call for reform that will help ALL of them. Young undocumented activists who worked on the DREAM Act and who are queer have, by making the connection between coming out of the closet and out of the shadows, changed the political landscape, are also included, is encouraging.  The AAPI immigrant families we work with, both LGBT and straight members alike, can also take heart in the provisions to reduce the family petition backlogs, which both proposals include.

But there are discrepancies between the proposals, and the policies that are of concern to our communities and must be addressed.  Provisions around enforcement and detention must not be onerous on our communities.

One of the main discrepancies between the Senate’s and the President’s proposals directly concerns LGBT families.  The Senate’s framework and the discussion of reforming the family-based immigration system did not include same-sex couples, where the President’s statement, on the other hand, states clearly that it will give “U.S. citizens and lawful residents the ability to seek a visa on the basis of a permanent relationship with a same-sex partner.”   It is clearly one of the more specific instances where the President’s proposal differs from the Senate’s framework.  We will build on that as a starting point to move the conversation forward.  This means that LGBT communities will be a key constituency to weigh in on comprehensive immigration reform, and we call for a broader reform that supports not only same-sex couples but ALL LGBT immigrants who desperately need reform to the currently broken system.

NQAPIA has always centered the unique perspectives and needs of LGBT immigrants in its work on immigrants’ rights and comprehensive immigration reform.  The LGBT Immigration Forums we have done around the country for the last three years has built a solid foundation for the work we now begin.  This past weekend at the 2013 Creating Change Conference in Atlanta, GA, we collected approximately 4,000 postcards calling on the Congress and the President to act on comprehensive immigration reform now.  As the debate moves forward, we are committed to educating and mobilizing our communities on this important issue.  I hope you’ll join us in this important effort.

 

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National Conference: Keynotes + VIPS (DC – 2013)

Check Out Who’s Coming


 

 

 

Congressman Mike Honda

 


 

 

 

Hawaii Supreme Court Justice Sabrina McKenna

 


 

 

 

Actress Tamlyn Tomita (Mike Chang’s mom from Glee and Waverly from The Joy Luck Club).

 

The White House’s LGBT Liaison Gautam Raghavan

Pulitzer Prize author Jose Antonio Vargas

National Center for Transgender Equality Executive Director Mara Kiesling

National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development Executive Director Lisa Hasegawa

Commissioner Hector Vargas, Presidential Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

OCA Executive Director Tom Hayashi

Queer Justice Fund Director Alice Y. Hom, of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander in Philanthropy

There will be other surprise guests, so bring your camera and capture all the excitement at the conference! For more event details visit Facebook or map us at NQAPIA Con 12 !