For All The Ways They Say We Are, No One Is Illegal

Statement: For All The Ways They Say We Are, No One Is Illegal

April 21, 2006

The Audre Lorde Project (ALP) celebrates a growing movement for immigrant rights in the United States. We proudly marched and stood with other Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two Spirit,Trans and Gender Non-Conforming (LGBTSTGNC) People of Color (POC) organizations and individuals, organizations from the LGBT community, and organizations from the Queens-based Immigrant Communities in Action coalition on April 10, 2006.

Since 1998, The Audre Lorde Project has been building an organizing space for LGBTSTGNC immigrants of color in New York City. Within these communities, we have prioritized our work with undocumented folks, low wage workers, and trans and gender non-conforming immigrants of color because we know these are some of the most vulnerable community members in this time and that a true immigrant rights movement will not be successful unless it is these very community members that are leading the way. As LGBTSTGNC immigrants of color, we want to share some of our positions with the broad LGBTSTGNC community, as well as the immigrant rights movement in the U.S.

Full Legalization Is A Nonnegotiable Demand

  • We support immediate access to full legalization for every person in the US. We believe that undocumented people, low wage workers, sex workers, and unemployed workers are as important as professional workers who have had greater access to visa and green card programs.
  • We oppose the 3-tier “path to legalization” proposed in the current compromise, as it divides immigrant communities and ultimately provides proportionately few opportunities for qualifying immigrants to access permanent status (a current summary cites 130,000 green card slots for 3 million immigrants who have been here between 2001 and 2004).
  • We oppose all guest worker proposals because we believe this is a tactic to deepen an era of permanent temporary status for all immigrants, and especially low wage workers.
  • We believe every person in the U.S. deserves access to benefits that only some enjoy – including all welfare subsidies, housing subsidies, access to affordable medical facilities, public schools, and financial aid. We know that many in our own communities are extremely vulnerable to exclusion from these benefits - including trans and gender non-conforming folks, low wage workers, undocumented folks, youth, elders and those who are HIV+. We also recognize that many citizens in this country are also excluded from these support systems and advocate a unified struggle for access to benefits.
  • We support the immediate repeal of the HIV ban which has been a legal and discriminatory barrier for many members of our communities from our countries of origin, as well as a criminalizing and dangerous reality for our community and family members in the U.S.
  • We oppose the proposed increased barriers to asylum seekers, which will further marginalize members of our community who are vulnerable to violence in other countries based on gender identity, political dissent, sexual orientation, religion, and many other factors.

Who Benefits From The Walls?

  • We recognize that all enforcement provisions are not just a part of an increased attack on immigrants within the U.S., but part of the ongoing and expanding War on Terrorism. The Bush Administration has already allocated money to a subsidiary of Halliburton (Vice President Cheney’s “former” corporation) to launch the development of a new genre of detention centers built for the Department of Homeland Security, “for an unexpected influx of immigrants, to house people in the event of a natural disaster or for new programs that require additional detention space." We call on the broader LGBT community to recognize the nature of the enforcement plans before us, which is nothing less than the groundwork for another period of internment and work camps.
  • We recognize that when it comes to enforcement, visibly LGBTSTGNC immigrants of color, undocumented folks, low wage workers, women, youth and elders who are LGBTSTGNC POC are exceptionally vulnerable to all facets of the detention and the prison industrial complex. We stand in solidarity with the many movements to resist and dismantle the prison industrial complex that came before us, including those made up of Indigenous Nations and people of African descent, who laid the groundwork for the current movement.
  • We oppose all provisions to build more walls, fund more border enforcement units, and expand the employee verification systems. We question government collusion with corporations that serve their financial and political interests with billions of dollars in profit and contributions. We oppose the use of private security corporations for any of the above functions, or any others – including those in occupied nations, federal and state prisons, and disaster-ravaged regions such as the U.S. Gulf Coast.
  • We oppose expanded powers for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for indefinite detention and expedited deportation; as well as the collaboration between DHS and local police. We recognize that these systems are based on tactics of racial and religious profiling which many citizens of color in the United States face also, and recommit to a unified struggle to resist racist, homophobic, sexist, ageist and transphobic attacks wherever they occur.

We Are Them And They Are Us

  • We caution our comrades around all language which can be tied to family values. While many LGBTSTGNC immigrants of color will benefit from successful family reunification measures, our lives are independently important outside of any nuclear family framework. We also caution reducing the complex needs of LGTSTGNC immigrants of color to the singular demand for same sex marriage rights, which leave out vulnerable individuals and families without citizens or documented members.
  • We recommit to the difficult task of reunification with the many divided parts of our communities based on race, class, ethnicity, or religion. We recognize the particular tension between citizens of color who are struggling to survive innumerable assaults including poverty, police violence, lack of access to benefits, living wages and affordable living conditions, military recruitment and political isolation; and immigrants who are doing our best to survive globalization. The Bush Administration will continue to scapegoat immigrants and LGBTSTGNC people concurrently, diverting national attention away from a war waged with lies and a failing economy due to the profit driven tactics of many of its own members. We rededicate ourselves to the task of resisting the many divisive tactics of the U.S. government through dialogue, education, and action.
  • We celebrate the impact our organizing has already had – delaying a weak and unprincipled bipartisan compromise through unprecedented mobilizations of grassroots communities. We support the many forms of ongoing resistance, and call for widespread solidarity with worker and student walkouts, as well as the connections being made in demonstrations for an end to U.S. imperialism and the rights of immigrants domestically.
  • We call on all members of our various communities – LGBT communities, our ethnic communities of origin, and fellow activists – to stop making false distinctions between immigrant and LGBT communities. We also ask that our political strategies always reflect the needs of the most vulnerable segments of our communities. Making deals based on the priorities of white, professional, non-trans immigrants and citizens is undermining more than one movement. When all the assimilation strategies end, there will be many of us who will still do not fit. We are building a movement for every one of us.