It’s a hard time to be part of our LGBTQ Asian Pacific Islander community. As queer and trans Asian Americans, South Asians, Southeast Asians, and Pacific Islanders, we are facing a moment of repression and rollbacks that we have not experienced since the Reagan years. In his first week in office, Donald Trump has already begun to implement the extremist campaign promises he ran on. We hold our Muslim members close as Trump enacts the promised Muslim ban. For 90 days, individuals from Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Iraq, and Iran will be barred from entering the U.S., simply because they live in a Muslim-majority country.
According to Trump’s executive action, one of the reasons for this ban is that foreign nationals from these countries “would oppress members of [marginalized] gender or sexual orientation.” As queer people, we need Trump to know, you are not protecting us. Instead, you are putting members of our community at grave risk. This ban affects ourselves, our families, our loved ones, our communities. What happens now to the lesbian asylum seeker in search of a semblance of safety in the U.S.? What happens to the bisexual student who came here on a visa and now does not know if they can return? What happens to the parents of a transgender child, who can no longer come to the U.S. even to visit?
For the next four months, no refugees from any country will be allowed to enter the U.S. Trump claims that “deteriorating conditions” are causing refugees to use “any means possible” to enter the U.S. What Trump fails to acknowledge is that the U.S. has created those conditions. In Yemen, U.S. drone strikes have killed more civilians than al Queda. The Iraq war is the U.S.’s third-longest war, at nearly nine years, surpassed only by Afghanistan and Vietnam. Refugees from these countries are our families; many are part of our queer and trans communities.
In our #RedefineSecurity April 2016 week of action, we told the stories of institutional Islamophobic and xenophobic hate violence against our LGBTQ API communities. We told the stories of an Indian trans woman harassed by immigration officials; of a Pakistani traveler being invasively examined by TSA, in her body and belongings; of a queer South Asian organizer whose home was raided; of a Bangladeshi traveler who has been on the no-fly list since she was a child. The National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms routinely publishes “Portraits of Injustice,” detailing the plight of Muslim political prisoners unjustly incarcerated for their religion. In its last report, “Power, Pain, Potential: South Asian Americans at the Forefront of Growth and Hate in the 2016 Election Cycle,” South Asian Americans Leading Together documented the increase of state and hate violence in our communities since the beginning of Trump’s campaign.
Last year, in the midst of this national uptick in hate and vigilante violence, the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance submitted a model of guidance to the Department of Homeland Security, urging the department to adopt protections against profiling on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, national origin, and religion. Trump is doing the opposite — he is choosing to embolden the white nationalist, Islamophobic, and xenophobic elements of his campaign. The National Security Entry-Exit Registration System implemented after 9/11 did not lead to a single terrorist conviction; neither did the PATRIOT Act. Trump is continuing to enact policy that simply does not work, while actively inciting the recorded biggest extremist threat facing the U.S.: white nationalists.
To our LGBTQ API and people of color family: We are still here. We are still fighting. We are still resisting. Our communities have survived war and torture; asylum and resettlement; migration and displacement; hate crimes and violence; trumped up walls and arbitrary borders; and daily attacks against our bodies, minds, and spirits. Here at NQAPIA, we are committed to continuing to fight over these next four years. And, we will always have your back.
SASHA W. is the organizing director at the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance.