by Glenn Magpantay, Executive Director NQAPIA

LGBT Asians/ South Asians Blast Federal Court Ruling Upholding Anti-Immigrant/ Anti-Sanctuary City Law in Texas SB4

For Shame! Tuesday March 12, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued a decision upholding Texas’s anti-immigrant/ anti-sanctuary city law (SB4). The law is one of the harshest anti-immigrant state laws passed since Trump took office. Several Texas cities including Dallas, Houston, Austin and San Antonio filed a lawsuit, in City of El Cenizo v. Texas, to block the implementation. The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance along with LGBT Asian groups and allies in Texas submitted an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief to illustrate the severe impacts the law would have on LGBT Texans, Asian Americans, and immigrants.

In the decision to up hold SB4, the court unanimously affirmed nearly all of the provisions of the law.

Texans Speak Out: KhushATX a South Asian LGBT group in Austin; OCA Greater Houston Chapter, a non-LGBT Asian American/ Pacific Islander ally; The Collective of Houston Asian Americans (CHAA); Dragonflies of Dallas and the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) had argued in our brief that SB 4 would promote racial profiling of immigrants. And that it would  subject Asian Americans, LGBT people, Black immigrants, and Latinos to illegal profiling about their immigration status by local law enforcement. We are outraged by this decision!

Asian Americans are the fastest growing immigrant group in Texas.  It is growing at twice the rate of the Hispanic population.  Large metro areas like Dallas and Houston are experiencing particularly rapid growth of Asian American communities,  each  with a significant number of undocumented Asian American immigrants.

As well, Asian Americans, both documented and undocumented, are the largest group of immigrants coming to the United States. Undocumented LGBTQI immigrants are disproportionately Asian. SB 4 would subject Latinx, Asian Americans, Muslims, and LGBT people, already ethnic, racial, religious, gender and/or sexual minorities, to even further harassment through discriminatory stops and unlimited questioning by police, regardless of actual immigration status.

A disproportionate number of the LGBT undocumented immigrant community is Asian American or South Asian. The impact of SB4 is compounded for those who are also LGBT. This law will subject LGBT immigrants to increased harassment and detention.  Studies show that federal immigration authorities already use their discretion to routinely target and detain LGBT individuals. Moreover, many LGBT immigrants come from countries that criminalize homosexuality. SB4 increases the likelihood that they could be forced to return to countries where they would face unfair criminal persecution. **

We have seen this before: The parallels between today’s immigration struggles and the history  of Asians people in America run deep. Asian Americans have long endured unjust profiling by law enforcement.

The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, made permanent in 1902, was the first law ever enacted to permanently exclude a specific ethnic group from immigrating to the United States. It also excluded Chinese immigrants from applying for US citizenship and essentially legalized racial discrimination. The Japanese American internment during World War II stemmed more from racism and prejudice than from an analysis of security threats. The traumatic experiences and memories of internment continue to shape the fabric of Japanese and Asian American consciousness today. Texas was home to three of those internment camps.

Our South Asian community members have faced intensified scrutiny and profiling since 9/11 and increasingly since the election of Trump. These encounters, interrogations and attacks are often motivated by blanket perceptions of all South Asian people as dangerous Muslims. Every day, profiling occurs at airports, on public streets, in gated communities, on the subway.

As Asian Americans, we take a stand against Texas Senate Bill 4, because our collective histories tell us we must! Do not doubt it, this week’s decision will be appealed. Local and national organizations signed on to our amicus brief will be actively involved in that suit.

We will fight this all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Every Texan, every American, who believes in fairness and compassion should support this effort.