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NQAPIA Delivers 971 Postcards to Trump to Preserve DACA

Today, the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) delivered 971 postcards from LGBTQ Asian Americans, South Asians, Southeast Asians, Pacific Islanders (APIs) and allies from across the country urging Mr. Trump and Congress to preserve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The program has helped thousands of LGBTQ API young people trying to work, study, and improve their lives in this country. The elimination of DACA will take away employment opportunities, educational opportunities, and even the slightest relief from fears of deportation.

APIs are the fastest growing racial group in the United States today and the largest segment of new immigrants. 169,000 APIs are eligible for DACA. There is an estimated 267,000 undocumented immigrants who are LGBTQ, of which a disproportionate share is API. According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, about 16,000 people from South Korea, the Philippines, India, and Pakistan have benefitted from DACA.

Glenn D. Magpantay, NQAPIA Executive Director, said: “DACA was never a perfect program, but it was a step in the right direction. President Trump’s mean-spirited cancellation of DACA will force 800,000 people to live in even greater fear. Hard-working DACA young people are the ones who are truly making America great.” For example:

Tony Choi is a 28 year-old, gay, Korean DACA beneficiary from New Jersey. In 2010, his options were to live a closeted life taking care of his mother with cancer in the US or return to Korea where his LGBTQ identity would subject him to harsh hazing for two years in the mandatory military service. Korean military penal law also criminalizes homosexuality. Watch Tony’s story.

Bupendra Ram is a South Asian from Fiji who came to the United States when he was only 2 years old. With the support of his mother, he is the first person in his family to attain a college degree. Read Bupendra’s story.

These stories demonstrate how DACA and other programs have protected LGBTQ APIs from harassment, discrimination, and hardship.

Sasha W., NQAPIA Organizing Director, added: “By taking away DACA, like enacting the Muslim Ban, the Trans Military Ban, and more, Trump continues to make large numbers of the American people vulnerable to continued attacks. We will never stop fighting with and for our undocumented LGBTQ API people, and all queer and trans people of color.”

Magpantay continued, “NQAPIA, which has long fought hard to preserve DACA and for immigrants’ rights, will take our fight to Congress. We urge Congress to codify DACA into law.”

Take Action

Sign the National Immigration Law Center petition to help defend DACA.

#HereToStay nqapia.org/uncovering-our-stories #DefendDACA

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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Uncovering Our Stories: Tony Choi

Senate Passes Immigration Reform Bill in Historic Week in Washington

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

Contact: Ben de Guzman
NQAPIA Co-Director for Programs
E-Mail: ben_deguzman@nqapia.org
Phone: 202-422-4909

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: NQAPIA Delivers Postcards for Comprehensive 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

NQAPIA Co-Director for Programs E-Mail: ben_deguzman@nqapia.org Phone: 202-422-4909

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.