The National Immigrant Youth Alliance Statement on Wal-Mart Walkouts: You Can’t Deport Workers’ Rights!


The National Immigrant Youth Alliance (NIYA) Statement in Support of Wal-Mart “Black Friday” Walk-outs  Wal-Mart: You Can’t Deport Workers’ Rights!   Wal-Mart workers are fighting back and need our help! In one of the biggest labor fights this

BREAKING: Viridiana Martinez to be Released From Broward Detention Center


August 3, 2012 media@theniya.org 734.262.9705 BREAKING: Viridiana Martinez to be Released From Broward Detention Center Public move displays hypocrisy of immigration officials BROWARD, Fl.—Viridiana Martinez is being released from Broward Transitional Center right

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Marco Saavedra, NIYA’s Second Implanted Activist, has been Detained in Broward Since July 11


August 1st, 2012 media@theniya.org 734.262.9705  Marco Saavedra, NIYA’s Second Implanted Activist, has been Detained in Broward Since July 11 Hundreds of stories gathered and hunger strikes under way; infiltrations to continue  MIAMI—Today, the National

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: NIYA Infiltrates Florida Detention Center to Prove Fraud of Obama Immigration Policy


July 30, 2012 media@theniya.org   734.262.9705 NIYA Infiltrates Florida Detention Center to Prove Fraud of Obama Immigration Policy Now demands full review of facility, jail organizing inside to continue  MIAMI—The National Immigrant Youth Alliance will hold a

Deportation Defense Funds

Posted on by Prerna in Immigration | Leave a comment

Please contact Adam Luna aluna@americasvoiceonline.org for press interviews regarding my immigration case and CC Jackie Mahendra, jackie@change.org

I refuse to spend a penny fighting this ludicrous deportation case. All donations should go to DreamActivist.

I am not being stubborn. Hear me out. I already gave USCIS around $2300 for my green card application and paid the fine imposed under 245-I for unauthorized stay and employment. Anything beyond that is absolutely out of question. Mom is the sole provider of her household and all her money goes to the bills, the mortgage and my law school tuition! All the money I save up goes to my cost of living. I can either go to school or fight my removal. I’m choosing education over deportation.

If you have any interest in keeping me here, please help my family out. The last thing I need is for them to be burdened with this!

I need to raise money for multiple trips to San Francisco ($300 roundtrip), duplication of documents and additional filings during removal proceedings.

Is There A Difference Between Love and Hate?

Posted on by Prerna in Immigration | Leave a comment
Little Dreamer (Peter Green album)

Image via Wikipedia

They say love and hate are two sides of the same coin. I seem to have the wrong currency.

I’m standing trial for something I had no control over.

The only things I seem to have control over are slowly slipping from my grasp.

They singled out the wrong dreamer for persecution. I was actually never meant to be a dreamer. I’m not just the accidental American. I’m the reluctant one.

There has to be something that compels me to fight this injustice. I just cannot figure out what is more unjust: being dragged here by my family when I was 14 or being told to get out of here without my family 14 years later. It all seems like a huge cosmic joke.

No one is really concerned. They don’t think it is possible.

No one understands my inner-turmoil. They think this is one of the easier things I have had to do.

How do I stand trial for the actions of my loved ones? “I’m here because my family is here” doesn’t hold much water in front of a judge.

How do I defend my presence in this country when I can barely tolerate it any more than it can tolerate me? This country has yet to give me a single reason for why it deserves me.

How do I fight against being sent to a place I’ve loved and lost? Persecution be damned, I feel like I was served a notice for divorce from a repressive and hateful marriage that I was forced into. And now, I have a chance to be free.

I’m told to shutup and let a lawyer do the talking.

So I wrote a lot. I deleted a lot more. I just couldn’t press control, alt, delete on how I feel.

I am really angry. But I’m also incredibly sad. I’m really amused. But I’m also annoyed.

I want to be home. I just don’t know what that means anymore.

It’s Time to Learn to Drive

Posted on by Prerna in Moron of the Week | Leave a comment
A car accident in Tokyo, Japan.

Image via Wikipedia

Dear Driver of CX3004,

You are a lucky person. You rammed your car right into me when I had a green light, breaking my bike gears and throwing me off balance onto the oncoming traffic. I could have died. I was carrying no identification documents on me and I currently have no medical or life insurance. My family lives in California and they wouldn’t have known what happened to me for a very long time.

I was riding at a snail pace of 5 miles an hour uphill on Massachusetts Avenue.  There’s no way you could not see me unless you are blind. I get that you are elderly. You are probably someone’s mom and grandmom, just like I’m someone’s daughter and grand-daughter. That’s probably why I didn’t report you. You are probably traumatized that you hit me. I’m traumatized too. I’m tired of illegal drivers hitting me and driving away or taking advantage of the fact that I never call the police on them. The last time I inadvertently reported something to the cops, they came home to take my father away. But I digress.

Just do us all a favor and get off the road before you kill someone.

P.S. I’m glad that my gears left giant scrapes on your front bender and hope it costs you more to fix it than it costs me to repair my bike.

P.P.S. As a public service announcement, I’d just like to tell everyone to stop honking at cyclists. It’s against the law in many jurisdictions because you can actually cause an accident by startling the cyclist.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Selective Persecution? The USCIS Green Card Interview From Hell

Posted on by Prerna in Immigration | 1 Comment

I’m told that it is a sad and scary time for Dreamers since I received my “Notice to Appear.” It looks more and more like a case of selective persecution. I need a copy of my own immigration file and see what USCIS has cooked up in it and why they think they have a fighting chance to get a removal order for me from a judge in an extremely backlogged (and liberal) San Francisco court.

This order to appear means I need to skip classes during the week, fly all the way across the country to San Francisco and all the way back on several different occasions. Going home will become synonymous with appearing in immigration court. That’s enough to cause some real mental issues. Some people want to see a live feed of the Lal vs. USCIS immigration proceedings for their own entertainment. Trust me, immigration court is not at all entertaining. It’s mentally exhausting and draining on anyone who has to experience it. That’s probably what they want to do: place me in a position where I need to spend time and energy fighting for myself rather than others. Their only problem is that I have many others who will drop everything to fight for me.

Others are asking for details of my immigration case. From what I know, my mother’s entire family is either American or Canadian, with the exception of an uncle that lives in New Zealand.  One of my U.S. citizen aunts filed for us when I was very young. USCIS abandoned that approved petition without cause. I don’t understand why but I probably should find out.

My older sister came to study here on an F-1 visa in 1997. I was sent here alone in December 1998 for a visit. Then, my father lost his job and on the spur of the moment, dragged me here on a visitor visa in November 1999 and placed me in a random high school on an approved F-2 visa. That is perfectly legal even though I don’t understand why he did that. But it was the San Francisco Bay Area and I could live more freely.

My U.S. citizen grandmother filed a family petition for us in late 2000, with a priority date of January 2001. That’s eligibility for 245-I, which allows me to adjust my status on any petition filed for me (family or employment or diversity visa) without leaving the country. Then the life-altering and tragic events of September 11 happened in my senior year of high school.

A college counselor handling my F-1 visa papers wrote to INS stating that my entire family was here and that I had an approved visa petition. That was probably the worst way to get a non-immigrant visa since an approved family petition shows an intent to stay. I was 17, didn’t know anything about immigration matters and left things up to my parents and other lawyers. I just attended high school while doing college coursework, scored in the Top 1% of state for the STAR 9 exams in consecutive years, placed as second team in policy debate at the Stanford National Invitationals. It was up to the adults in my life to manage my immigration affairs.

After a semester of college, I received a letter denying my F-1 visa application because the I-130 petition from my grandmother showed intent to stay. In all honesty, I neither had intent to come here nor any intent to stay. Lawyers advised that any appeal would place me in removal proceedings. We didn’t know what to do. My parents were not about to send their youngest child to a country they had left behind, and a country in the midst of political upheaval. Lawyers told us not to worry — I could always adjust my status under the family petition filed by my grandmother. After all, being a derivative beneficiary of the petition was cited as the reason my F-1 was denied.

Due to backlogs and date retrogression, it took years till the priority date of the petition became current. No one ever told us that after 21, I would no longer have any right to gain benefit from the petition. Everyone, including member lawyers of the American Immigration Lawyers Association told me that I was protected with both 245-I and the Child Status Protection Act. Either they lied or USCIS is gunning for selective persecution now.

My older sister got married, became a U.S. citizen and filed an F-4 petition for me as well, which will take eons. My parents eventually became legal residents through my grandmother when I was 24 and aged-out on her petition. My mother filed a separate second category petition for me, asking USCIS to grant me the original priority date of January 2001 from my grandmother’s petition. Somehow, USCIS processed the paperwork, called me for biometrics and granted my work authorization. We were all quite happy since it meant the worst was over for us.

I have never spoken about the acrimonious and hostile green card interview that followed. First, the USCIS officer going over my file asked to see my mother who did not need to be at the interview and proceeded to interrogate her. Then she asked me twice why I had come to this country. I answered evenly that “my father brought me here when I was a kid.” She didn’t seem to like that answer.

She went down the list of my various degrees (my proof of continuous presence) and when she found out that I was in law school in Washington D.C., the USCIS officer seemed enraged. She insisted that I should not have filed using a California address. I calmly noted that I lived there when the papers were filed, that everything for my entire family was filed in California and my permanent residence unequivocally was California. She replied that it was not appropriate, took my Washington D.C. address and proceeded to complain to her supervisor.

She came back and asked me to prove that I was here on December 21, 2000. I told her I had sent in my high school transcript that showed I was here and showed her the I-94 card stamped on November 13, 1999. She atrociously noted that it didn’t prove my presence on that exact date and I could have left the country. That’s incorrect unless she thinks I could have swam to Fiji and back. Does she expect a 16-year-old to show utility bills? Maybe USCIS doesn’t think I have 245-I, unlike my parents even though it is from the same petition. That would be fun to argue over in court.

I also need to find out how many people with 245-I’s and qualifying relatives are actually being deported from the country. USCIS has often exercised prosecutorial discretion in such cases. I have various approved petitions that say “we understand that the relative is in this country and will file for adjustment of status when the priority date becomes available.” I have more priority dates than I can count but right now, the Department of Homeland Security seems to be prioritizing my removal.

People are emailing me suggesting marriage. I’m gay. Even if I get legally married in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage, I cannot gain any immigration benefit due to the fact that the federal government does not recognize same-sex marriage. Moreover, I would lose my status as an unmarried adult child of a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident, even though the federal government doesn’t recognize the marriage. It makes a lot of sense, like the rest of our immigration laws.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Exam Time

Posted on by Prerna in Immigration | 1 Comment

So almost everyone knows what’s going on and now I’m keeping sane and quiet to give exams till the end of the month.

I have to wonder how much the “Notice to Appear” is an act of political retaliation. From the lose calculations I can make regarding my immigration file and the backlogged immigration courts, it would take a couple years for USCIS to obtain a removal order from the judge. Due to family visa date retrogression in both the first and second preference categories, I’m probably out of luck even with the severely backlogged courts. Then again, last year San Francisco Immigration Court granted relief in 40 out of the 77 cases of Fiji nationals in proceedings, with 7 cases given voluntary departure. Only 13 cases were actually removed. My odds are better than 50 percent. Why is USCIS wasting their time and resources?

It’s not just an attack on me. It’s a collateral attack on my family, from my 82-year old U.S. citizen grandmother to my 5-year-old niece, all of whom live together in the same household. And it is quite unfortunate that my family’s taxes are going to support a government that is trying to deport their future. A government that is on the verge of shutting down because three men cannot agree on the issue of subsidized pap smears. Maybe DHS is right — I am an alien because I certainly cannot make sense of this.

I would like to thank everyone for the support that I’m receiving and hearing from people I haven’t seen in years. Please know that this isn’t the end of the world and we’ll fight this out in court. If we can’t win in court, then we would just need to do this in the old-fashioned “jam their fax lines, fill their voicemails, shutdown their emails and sit in their offices” way. There’s plenty of time till the climax.

Besides, the more time and resources they waste on me, the less time they get trying to squash someone who cannot fight back. Bring it on.

If you don’t find me blogging for the next three weeks or answering calls, it’s because I’m actually spending time studying for law school finals!

What the Government Shutdown Means for Immigration Services

Posted on by Prerna in Immigration | Leave a comment

If three men cannot reach an agreement over my uterus wall linings by tonight, the United States government will shut down.

Unfortunately, this does not just mean Congress and the President. They are in perpetual shutdown mode. But there are basic federal government programs  designated as “non-essential” functions that would cease to operate.

  • The Department of Homeland Security will still be mostly operational including ICE and Border Patrol. They are essential for some reason beyond the realm of my intellectual prowess. Please welcome the shadow government of 2011. Also note that DHS will now use Twitter and Facebook to issue terror alerts. That part is not a joke.
  • USCIS should also be in the clear since they mostly generate revenue when they process applications. Again, this is when they actually process applications.
  • The National Visa Center should not face any cutbacks because they are hired contractually. Of course, they will still release a visa bulletin next month with further date retrogression. Alright, this one is not funny, I feel the pain as well.
  • Department of Labor and immigration courts that are under the DOJ will face severe setbacks. I wasn’t sure whether this was possible given the current case backlogs, but it would also increase the time for labor certifications and conditions applications. Delays in labor conditions would also delay H-1 B filings, which is a disaster.
  • The federal E-verify program will shutdown. It’s probably a great time to get a job.
  • FOIA (Freedom of Information Act Requests) will not be operational or slow down requests. It’s unimaginable how much slower they can get so lets just assume they will be closed for business.
  • None of the 1-800 government help-line numbers would be operational so there would be difficulty in gaining immigration case information. But you still need to press 1 for English.
  • People trying to get passport and visa renewals will face delays since federal buildings will be closed. Alternatively, this can also mean that removals may be slowed down for those who need a passport to get back to their countries and tourism would be severely impacted. Who on earth wants to come here?
  • Mom just texted me saying “Oh no! It all boils down to THE HOLE!!!!” Yes, well, that is mostly true. It’s all about “the hole” and definitely things in the near vicinity of “the hole.”

    Fighting the Georgia Ban On Immigrant Youth

    Posted on by Prerna in Immigration | Leave a comment

    This is a message from one of my friends, Maria Marroquin, who protested against the ban on undocumented students in higher education institutions across Georgia. She’s currently in detention, along with 6 other students, and may face removal from the country.

    Three years ago when I helped start DreamActivist.org, I never thought I would be sitting where I am today. To be honest, one of the reasons I helped start this group was because I was too scared to publicly share my status, to share my face and my name. I thought that if I remained online I could always hide that.

    Donate to my bail fund

    Over the course of the last few years though, I have learned that that might not be the best thing.  I have learned that if we, as undocumented youth, truly want to get ahead then we need to be ourselves. We need to come out and we need to show this nation that we are undocumented and unafraid and will accept nothing less than equality.

    Today, I will be participating in a sit-in action. I will most likely be arrested and placed into deportation proceedings. I am willing to risk all of this because my current situation is unbearable. It took me nearly five years to graduate with a two-year degree paying out-of-state tuition. I don’t complain about it; however, I can’t stand by knowing that my little brother and sister will have to follow the same path.

    This is not an easy decision to make, especially knowing I might have to raise up to $7,500 to be released from detention.

    Our politicians may have let us down, and at this point, that is something we expect from them.  I cannot, however, silently sit by and let my family down.  I have to fight for them and for each of you.  Today when I get arrested, I will do so with a smile on my face knowing that I am truly Undocumented, Unafraid and Unapologetic.  Will you join me?

    If you are unable to take the risk yourself then maybe you can donate just $25 towards my bail fund.

    See you on the other side,

    Maria Marroquin
    Co-founder of DreamActivist.org

    Maria is the quintessential dreamer. And I’m proud of her for standing up against injustice. If you can spare some cash, the students need $1800 each to make bail. Donate here.

    Enhanced by Zemanta

    A Deportation Hearing Follows the Gag Order: President Obama Wants To Deport Me

    Posted on by Prerna in Immigration | 15 Comments

    Following on the heels of the “gag order” that Obama issued on the “stop the deportations campaign” is a notice telling me that I’m officially in removal proceedings.

    No, this is not an April Fools’ joke.

    The Notice to Appear for a Master Hearing is for November 10, 2011, just four days short of my 12 year anniversary in this country.

    (So much for Barack Obama not deporting DREAM-eligible youth or am I just too old and educated to qualify now?)

    I’m the grandchild of a U.S. citizen and the daughter of legal permanent residents of the United States. The fact that I’m in removal proceedings is incomprehensible as a matter of fact and law.

    Legally, my hope rests on a fair and positive resolution of Costelo v. Chertoff in the Ninth Circuit. My mother is part of the class action for the Child Status Protection Act certified by Judge Selna in 2009:

    “Aliens who became lawful permanent residents as primary beneficiaries of third- and fourth-preference visa petitions listing their children as derivative beneficiaries, and who subsequently filed second-preference petitions on behalf of their aged-out unmarried sons and daughters, for whom Defendants have not granted automatic conversion or the retention of priority dates pursuant to § 203(h)(3).”

    My mother became a lawful permanent resident as a primary beneficiary of a third-preference visa through her U.S. citizen mother, where I was a derivative beneficiary. Since the petition was approved with a priority date of January 2001 and I was present here in December 2000, I’ve 245-I eligibility, which waives unauthorized stay and employment. After my mom became a green card holder, she also subsequently filed a second-preference petition on behalf of me (her aged-out unmarried daughter) that USCIS did not grant automatic conversion or retention of priority date for pursuant to § 203(h)(3). The result of this decision is that I am ineligible to claim a green card based on the petition filed on behalf of my mother because I am over 21. Instead of using the original date of filing, USCIS issued a new priority date for the second-category petition filed by my mom, which could take up to a decade. It means “waiting in line” all over again.

    Congress passed the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA), Pub L. No. 107-208, 116 Stat. 927 (2002) to address this precise problem in immigration law. However, due to gaps left by Congress in the making of public policy, agencies like the United Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) have the authority to interpret the law through their own regulations.  Under the two-part test set forward in Chevron, if the intent of Congress is clear, that is the end of the matter, but if the statute is silent or ambiguous with respect to issue at hand, a reviewing court must defer to the agency decision so long as agency’s interpretation is not arbitrary, capricious, or manifestly contrary to the statute. Chevron, U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837, 843-844 (1984). Deference to the USCIS on immigration and refugee law has created a disaster for legal permanent resident parents who are often separated from their only children, contrary to the spirit and purpose of the CSPA.

    In Matter of Wang, 25 I&N Dec. 28 (BIA 2009), the BIA narrowed the scope of CSPA to children of lawful permanent residents who were previously eligible as derivative beneficiaries under a second-preference spousal petition filed by the same lawful permanent resident. This recent USCIS interpretation of the Child Status Protection Act prolongs family separation by not enabling an aged-out derivative beneficiary to retain their original priority date as per Section 203(h)(3) of the Immigration Nationality Act, which states that:

    If the age of an alien is determined under paragraph (1) to be 21 years of age or older for the purposes of subsections (a)(2)(A) and (d), the alien’s petition shall automatically be converted to the appropriate category and the alien shall retain the original priority date issued upon receipt of the original petition.

    The decision automatically doubles the number of years a child of a legal permanent resident has to wait in line for a green card. It is arbitrary and capricious, and manifestly contrary to the statute.

    Section 203(h)(3) of the Child Status Protection Act is arguably not ambiguous. Legislative history shows that the House of Representatives originally limited the applicability of CSPA to the immediate relative of a U.S. citizen. However, Senator Dianne Feinstein revised and expanded the Senate version of the CSPA, noting that:

    “[T]he legislation I have introduced today would provide a child, whose timely filed application for a family-based, employment-based, or diversity visa was submitted before the child reached his or her 21st birthday, the opportunity to remain eligible for that visa until the visa becomes available . . . “

    In discussing the need for the legislation, Senator Feinstein explained:

    INS backlogs have carried a heavy price: children who are the beneficiaries of petitions and applications are “aging out” of eligibility for their visas, even though they were fully eligible at the time their applications were filed. This has occurred because some immigration benefits are only available to the “child” of a United States citizen or lawful permanent resident, and the Immigration and Nationality Act defines a “child” as an unmarried person under the age of 21. As a consequence, a family whose child’s application for admission to the United States has been pending for years may be forced to leave that child behind either because the INS was unable to adjudicate the application before the child’s 21st birthday, or because growing immigration backlogs in the immigration visa category caused the visa to be unavailable before the child reached his 21st birthday. As a result, the child loses the right to admission to the United States. This what is (sic) commonly known as “aging-out.”

    Thus, Senator Feinstein made clear that CSPA applied not only to administrative delays but to children who aged out due to backlogs. The Senate passed this version of the Child Status Protection Act, along with the House, and the bill was signed into law by President Bush. However, USCIS and the Board of Immigration Appeals have worked to narrow the scope of CSPA over the years and their arbitrary and capricious re-interpretation of the statute now regularly receives deference in courts.

    While the American Immigration Law Association has filed a supportive amicus curie brief, none of the lawyers I’ve seen in the past two years appear confident about this case besides the lead counsels fighting it. The oral arguments are yet to be scheduled. So I need backup arguments.

    In the meantime, I’ll take the Notice to Appear as a compliment. It looks like I’m an important enough threat to be the target of ICE enforcement efforts. I thought DHS Secretary Napolitano was prioritizing removing so-called “criminal aliens” from the country and students like me were not the target of ICE enforcement efforts. I was wrong. Funnily, I’ve never received a speeding ticket or citation, let alone seen the inside of a police station. My only “crime” is that I turned 21 before my mother became a legal permanent resident of the United States. Unfortunately, I can’t stop aging. I’d love to know how to reverse the process. I’m sure everyone would.

    But you know what’s a bigger crime? Separating a mother from her child. Separating a child from her mother based on an arbitrary age. I don’t know how my parents are supposed to survive this, considering all their hopes and dreams for the future are pinned on me, considering they came to this country only to give me a better life.

    It’s also unfortunate that no court of law would hear my claim of the years of pain, anguish and trauma that I’ve faced by the simple fact that according to immigration law, my only parents are not my immediate relatives.

    They are legal permanent residents now. They will be U.S. citizens soon. And they still won’t have the right to keep their youngest daughter in this country.

    God Bless America.

    Enhanced by Zemanta

    Obama Issues A Gag Order On “Stop the Deportation” Campaigns

    Posted on by Prerna in Immigration | 3 Comments

    The Obama Administration is reportedly calling on Congressional members to stop making calls on behalf of stopping the deportations of certain immigrants from the country. It’s a gag order as a response to increasing pressure from several immigrant advocacy groups calling on Obama to stop the deportations, be it for undocumented students, parents of U.S. citizens or same-sex bi-national couples.

    Han Nichols reporting for Bloomberg News:

    Several members of Congress who were scheduled to attend a March 31 news conference on the issue said administration officials contacted them to voice concern about their participation. Until U.S. immigration law is overhauled, the lawmakers say, Obama should use his executive power to protect families facing deportation or separation because at least one parent is an illegal immigrant.

    “The staffers that are attached to us, the liaisons, they transmitted some concern,” said Representative Mike Honda of California, a former chairman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, referring to the White House legislative affairs office. “They would have loved us not to have gone to the press conference.”

    Representative Mike Honda has been a leader for immigration reform and an outspoken voice in Congress. Openly pointing out the hypocrisy of the Obama Administration on this matter is another step forward in the right direction.

    The administration argues that it doesn’t have the legal authority to exempt certain immigrant categories from the law.

    “With respect to the notion that I can just suspend deportations through executive order, that’s just not the case,” Obama said at a March 28 town hall sponsored by the Univision television network. “There are laws on the books that Congress has passed.”

    Now, if only mainstream media did its research, they could report that President Obama is not being totally forthcoming about his executive powers.

    The Department of Homeland Security granted deferred action to the surviving spouses of U.S. citizens in 2009.

    Attorney Angelo Paparelli notes that Obama has also used the executive remedy of “parole in place” on a blanket basis to help foreign citizens of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

    Deferring deportations to Haiti and providing deferred enforced departure to citizens of Japan are also some examples of an executive agency using prosecutorial discretion.

    There is no reason that USCIS cannot use approved I-797s to grant conditional residency to certain immigrants residing in the United States. It actually makes no sense to deport a family member of a U.S. citizen or legal resident who will soon be eligible for a green card through adjustment of status.

    Change takes courage. And Obama doesn’t seem to have any on immigration. So much for the son of a Kenyan immigrant.

    Enhanced by Zemanta

    Navigating the Space Between the White Gheys And Queer POC

    Posted on by Prerna in Desi, Immigration | Leave a comment
    Not Gay as in Happy but Queer as in Fuck You

    Image by Michael Holden via Flickr

    I picked up on some disdain towards same-sex binational couples work in some queer desi spaces this weekend. I was amused but not surprised by it.

    I would like to take several steps back and note that I do get nasty emails and tweets from privileged white gheys who are annoyed by my support and work for undocumented youth. In queer spaces, I get questioning glares and nudges from people of color for supporting what is perceived as a white mainstream issue. It’s static noise. Usually, I navigate around it and keep my eyes on the actual target.

    The fact that U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents in a same-sex relationship cannot sponsor their spouse or partner for immigration is unquestionably and irrevocably a matter of discrimination. Just because the more visible case of discrimination involve a vast majority of white gay (fe)males citizens does not make it alright to support the status quo or question the importance of the issue or question the work that people are doing on it.

    One could oppose DADT repeal (and the DREAM Act!) because the idea of fighting for the rights of young queers to join the military to kill brown people is deplorable. But one can also support the repeal of DADT because it is a simple matter of employment discrimination. Obviously, opposing the repeal would not deconstruct the military industrial complex so it is a calculated decision to make sure people are not fired from their jobs for being gay, lesbian or bisexual (sorry, the military still disallows transgender persons from serving). Similarly, opposing Uniting American Families Act or the rights of same-sex bi-national couples to stay together in this country won’t dismantle the institution of marriage or white privilege. That’s just how I look at it. It’s my bottom-line, underlined in bold and all-caps, and it’s not about to change.

    (Note: UAFA concerns partners, not spouses. If the bill ever passes, it may actually go some way in allowing people to stay in relationships without marriage. There’s also the question of whether it is permissible to allow same-sex partners to gain immigration rights but not straight ones, but we just aren’t that legally evolved yet).

    However, it is true that LGBT immigrants need much more than just legislation like UAFA or administrative relief from the Obama Administration. LGBT immigrant youth have their own set of unique needs ranging from homelessness to anti-bullying legislation to the DREAM Act. I believe that we must put more effort and emphasis on asylum and detention reform for the mere fact that these are more vulnerable populations who may not have the resources to advocate for themselves.

    While the categories are often not rigid and intersect quite a lot, most same-sex bi-national couples are educated and resourceful enough to advocate for their own rights. Honestly, if a dozen undocumented youth can run a national movement without any institutional support and funding, I don’t see why a more privileged set of people cannot fight the system more effectively.

    It is painful to be separated from the person(s) you love. Period. However, the criticisms levied against organizations that focus primarily on bi-national couples are fair and valid in their place. At the same time, unless you are working on a better plan or policy to combat institutionalized discrimination, I’m not sure why it really matters.

    We probably need to entirely deconstruct citizenship and the privileges that go with it. We can do that academic exercise but it is not about to change the lives of thousands of immigrants. I could have sat around and deconstructed the DREAM Act for the way it plays into the awful good immigrant versus bad immigrant construct or I could have helped build the infrastructure for a national movement of undocumented youth while others used their privilege to engage in such academic exercise.

    I’m sure it is fruitful on some level. I can offer to throw people into the same room to duel it out. I’m just not interested in playing referee or being in the same space to witness the duel. There’s bigger fish to fry.

    Enhanced by Zemanta