Adventures of a Forced Migrant Contact Me
As the Senate gears up to introduce immigration reform bill, keep in mind what is not in the legislation.
Justin Feldman and I co-wrote this piece after mutually observing the appropriation of queer undocumented youth and LGBT organizations for comprehensive immigration enforcement, a proposed reform that could exclude millions while ramping up militarization of the border and creating the most punitive immigration enforcement system.
Thus far, leaked details of the legislation reveal that the Senate legislation will require the federal government to meet certain border security benchmarks before any undocumented immigrants can receive a green card. The bill also requires that applicants prove they were in the country before December 31, 2011. The proposed legislation also eliminates the F-4 visa category, such that siblings of U.S. citizens would no longer be eligible for green cards, while creating a “new merit-based” program for high-skilled workers.
No mention of much-needed detention reform, ending Secure Communities, eliminating the unlawful presence bars, and so on.
Exclusion is never neutral. The struggle continues.
Hosted by Asian Pacific Americans for Progress (APAP)-Washington, DC Chapter
Wednesday, March 24th, 2010
Cannon House Office Building Room 121
Karen Narasaki – Executive Director, Asian American Justice Center (AAJC) – moderator
Prerna Lal – DREAMActivist.org founder, Change.org Blogger
Deepa Iyer – Executive Director, South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)
Hemi Kim – DC Director, National Korean American Service and Education Consortium (NAKASEC)
Ben de Guzman – Policy Director, KAYA – Filipino Americans for Progress; Co-Programs Director, National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA), National Coordinator, National Alliance for Filipino Veterans Equity (NAFVE)
Congressman Mike Honda (confirmed for opening remarks)
Congresswoman Judy Chu
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)
South Asians for Obama (SAFO)
National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC)
Asian American Justice Center (AAJC)
National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA)
National Alliance for Filipino Veterans Equity (NAFVE)
Special Thank Yous:
Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC)
Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC)
This is really the only reason that I am in DC besides work.
I have two needs:
1. More organizational sponsorships.
2. Someone to video “shoot” the event.
I had a busy week and several mentions in LGBT media after the New York drama that I have put squarely behind me.
Of course, I anticipated differing reactions to what I had to say in The Advocate (Universal Stagnation and Immigration Reform Conundrum) and Ambiente. But some people are uninterested in recognizing the need to work together or don’t see the helping hand extended towards trying to create more inclusive platforms. No, they would rather stick to their guns and start launching attacks.
I fought for same-sex binational couples bill (UAFA) inclusion in CIR and I was told by pro-migrant people to “get my priorities straight” and stop supporting an issue that might kill a bill of much value to immigrant communities. Nevermind, that my actual issues with any potential CIR legislation have nothing to do with LGBT issues.
Then I was told by angry and resentful Uniting American Families Act activists that they don’t see why these “illegal immigrants” deserve a pathway to citizenship before them. Of course it always comes down to them and their families, and not larger macroeconomic forces created by a neo-liberal order, and a broken immigration system that never provided a legal pathway for most people of color immigrants here to begin with.
Would you even understand why people leave their homes, uproot their whole lives, to move thousands of miles to a foreign place, just to start over? That question plagues me daily.
It’s almost utterly useless trying to have these conversations with people who are not both part of the undocumented and queer communities because they tend to see themselves as being “shafted” and immediately fight for the leftover pieces of the pie. They just do not get that we need to take over the bakery and fix it so that everyone can have as much pie as they want. Period.
And if you happen to be queer and whine about how CIR does not include your family but includes those “illegal immigrants,” I no longer mind your exclusion. Why should we bend over backwards to pull you up when you have absolutely no courtesy or knowledge of our unique immigration struggles?
I don’t see why it is so hard to see that the system is broken for everyone— that all our friends, communities need help and support instead of nit-picking who needs it more than someone else.
So ultimately, what’s the point of trying to reach out and build bridges when they end up tearing me in the middle? What possible gain do I have from any of this? Nada. It’s just painful to have people tear one part of me over another. You know what: from now on, you can’t have either, whatever that means. I have more important things to do than having to defend one part of my identity over another.
I won’t give any roadmaps or strategies. Fight your own battles without lashing out at my communities and me just because it is convenient and we are easier targets than a failed system.
Just want to give some overdue shoutout to Rachel LaBruyere from the Center for Community Change for pushing on the inside for the organization to take a stance for UAFA inclusion in CIR. I know it wasn’t easy and it took a lot of fever-induced tweeting, plus a long burning blogpost.
It is not going to be easy moving forward but it’s important to not throw people under the bus when trying to build coalitions for social change and I am glad at least CCC gets it.
Of course, I am not waiting for the National Immigration Forum to apologize for its appalling words at the summit. But this is a win.
I achieved more with a blog and some tweets than we achieved at the summit all day. Maybe next time I should just stay at home and do this through conference call instead of risking my life in cold climates. Yeah, remind me. Okay, I will go check-in my gigantic ego. We have work to do at DreamActivist and I can’t keep doing free work for Immigration Equality no matter how much I love them. Ralls–you should have just hired me as a consultant 😛
I am going to go chill in San Francisco today and tomorrow and take care of this pneumonia because I am supposedly no good for the movement if I can’t tweet and rant.
Drinks are on me Rachel LaB!
I had the pleasure of attending a fantastic Netroots Nation event yesterday where once again, advocates brought up the terrible idea of ‘piecemeal approaches,’ derided DREAM advocates and then proceeded to say that the best we could hope for is that things do not get worse in this climate.
A speaker from Nancy Pelosi’s office told us all that we did not have votes to pass the DREAM Act and that they were looking towards President Obama to frame the issue. The CHC was NOT going to support any ‘piecemeal approach.’ That was the best they could do. It was so positively empowering for all the young people in the room. My immigrant youth friend and I gained a lot from the event; we realized that we should skip going to anything where we are not represented.
I believe the most enlightening quote of the night was from the Asian Law Caucus representative, who said “the only thought out there in the universe promoting a piecemeal immigration effort is MALDEF.” Fantastic. The only thought in my head after hearing that is DUMB. Don’t get me wrong. I totally support comprehensive immigration reform but anything short of a complete overhaul (including the inclusion of UAFA) is ‘piecemeal’ so I will never understand why young immigrants are so derided for taking reins of their own cause. It’s like accusing queers of only wanting marriage for themselves. Now regardless of what we think about marriage, WHO goes around saying that?
Now of course, people will be clamoring to ‘talk to me’ about ‘MY issues’ after the fact, which is so typical of our (racist) hierarchical power structure. The outspoken queer woman of color (aka B-I-T-C-H) has ‘issues’ of course and everyone else doesn’t. Now why is it that people of color have to be offended before being taken seriously and called for dialogue? Don’t bother answering that because I am highly disinterested in wasting an iota of my precious time talking to anyone and their lackeys.
This is precisely what happens when immigrants and immigrant youth get purposely left out of panels concerning their own issues even by so-called allies. I repeatedly asked to be included on the panel concerning “online organizing for immigration rights” only to be told that there was no space for me. Literally. And I have no interest in listening to citizens talk about immigrants and “their rights.” That’s like being gay and sitting in a room where straight people are lecturing about tenets of the LGBT movement. My mind is not colonized enough to accept that.
For the ‘white liberal racist’ we are mere tokens, only for interest when it comes to collecting stories and posing for documentaries. And when their million-dollar strategies fail to bear fruit, we are blamed for ‘ineffective advocacy.’ We, the immigrant youth, fighting to keep our homes, find and hold down jobs, somehow get 3 meals per day and struggling to grapple with refugee status in our own homes just did not try hard enough to lobby for ourselves. We failed even though we are mere caricatures in a simulated game.
Luckily for us, I know how to create alternative spaces so people haven’t been able to entirely put the ‘ignore and discard’ stamp on us. You can’t control messaging online, and that is why real voices are more powerful, more successful than the mutts guarding traditional gates would like.
I am in the “moving on” and “moving out” process in my life. This chapter is so closed that it hardly matters. It’s NEVER going to come in the way of my actual life what with full tuition offers from law schools filling up my mailbox. But I thought I would mention it in passing to the other ships still blindly navigating the waters in the dark to nowhere. Your biggest opposition is not the ignorant anti-immigrant foes with their copy-paste comment spam. Your biggest opposition is the attrition you will face from people supposedly on your own side. Trust no one. Good luck.