One Final Argument For The DREAM Act: The War Anti-DREAMers Have Forgotten To Mention

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I've blogged my heart out for the DREAM Act this week.  Though I've probably exhausted every argument out there I just wanted to draw everyone's attention to a post Dream Activist just put up at change.org:

We already have to battle it out with nativists and with our life circumstances. We do not want to be fighting with our friends and allies too. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
Dream Activist (28 March 2009)
I recommend reading the whole thing, but that's a good primer for the argument, from the mouths of unauthorized youth themselves.  Prerna also spoke out courageously in the comments section of Citizen Orange, when a "progressive" spoke out against the DREAM Act.  The whole argument deserves to be reproduced in full.
Erendira Guerra wrote the following:

The Dream Act is sadly a military bill with a cover of education. And it is anti-Mexican.
It is anti-Mexican because the overwhelming majority of undocumented youth who graduate from high school in the US are Mexican. And the majority of our Mexican documented youth dont go to college even when they have papers.

this is a class question. Mexicanos in the main are from working class background. When families come from across the sea, they are in the main, the lower middle classes who go to college anyways.

So, the Dream Act will benefit certain sectors of the undocumented youth. But, the majority who are Mexican will be the ones to go to war.

Right now it is not legal for the military to recruit undocumented youth. They do it, yes, but they hide it, they cheat, and nonetheless it is against the law. The Dream Act will make it legal to recruit the undocumented youth and it will open the flood gates for the undocumented Mexican youth to go and kill and die overseas.

We as a people, in a movement, cannot support this! We cannot support bringing our young people to slaughter. Those of you who support the Dream Act, especially you undocumented youth who want to go to college, your desire is just, you deserve the right to go to college. But not with a cost of sending our other sisters and brothers to war!
 
Forget this ME FIRST mentality that the US society promotes. We must think of each other.
Sending the majority off to war so that you can go to college is wrong.
 
Yes, fight for the Dream Act, but ONLY without the military provisions. Un danyo contra uno es un danyo contra todos!
Erendira Guerra (26 March 2009)

Prerna wrote the following:

For Erendira Guerra and the likes:

I am literally tired of people who claim to be 'immigrant rights advocates' but dare to take the bully pulpit from their positions of power and privilege.

How f***ing dare you tell immigrant youth that they should not advocate for their own rights?

Opposing an educational opportunity such as the DREAM Act is precisely what creates conditions for military recruitment. Undocumented students are joining the military right now, putting themselves at risk of death and deportation, just to get legalized since going to college does not give them that option. A backdoor draft for undocumented immigrant youth already exists because there aren't enough opportunities for legalization such as H-I-G-H-E-R E-D-U-C-A-T-I-O-N. In effect, opposing the DREAM Act means putting the lives of countless students at risk.

That's really progressive. Bravo.

Right now, the death and deportation of thousands of undocumented youth fall directly on the heads of those that oppose the DREAM Act. How do you sleep at night?

My family, my friggin family of legal residents and citizens are fighting mortgage companies right now to prevent a foreclosure and I--with my Graduate degree and a gazillion skills--cannot do anything because I can't get jobs that I am overqualified for. How DARE you good-for-nothing people try to disempower immigrant youth due to your own manifestation of 'white men's burden?' Get a life and start doing some real advocacy for migrant rights.

[...]

P.S. Ernesto, I don't have a 'ME FIRST' mentality that you assume of undocumented students. I have no problem leaving the United States. But some of us care about our parents and grandparents that are here and want to take care of them, to prevent being separated from them and to help them out. Some of us also desperately want to become doctors, lawyers, teachers, engineers and help bring our communities up because we have the untapped potential to do that and so much more.

Don't label me as "anti-Mexican American" or as an elitist. My girlfriend is Mexican-American and she is only making it through school right now with the hope of getting the DREAM Act passed so she can become a nurse. I am doing this advocacy for her and countless other students more than myself.

Trying to divide and conquer the movement is despicable.
Prerna (29 March 2009)
I usually advise Prerna to temper her anger, but in this case, I believe her anger is completely justified.  To hear unauthorized migrant youth speak out for themselves I think also humanizes this argument.  I don't think people like Erendira Guerra are bad people.  I do think, however, that they don't often have to account for the consequences of the arguments they make.  Unauthorized youth already have to fight waves of hate day in and day out.  They also have to fight powerful migrant rights organizations that try to coopt their energy and make them wait for the right to exist.  The last thing that unauthorized youth need is opposition from supposed allies. 

Even worse is how supposed allies pretend to speak for unauthorized migrant youth, telling them what's best for them and everyone, as if DREAMers don't have a voice.  Whenever I'm confronted by someone like this, I always ask them to show me unauthorized migrant youth that oppose the DREAM Act.  To this day, of the many that I have asked, no one has been able to produce even one unauthorized youth that opposes the DREAM Act for me.  I wouldn't even dare ask that they go on the record.  The fact that people cannot find one unauthorized youth to speak out against the DREAM Act, out of the hundreds of thousands that are eligible, should say a lot about the legitimacy of the anti-DREAMer viewpoint.

Why focus all this attention on a small minority of infighting among allies?  As I've said, the real debate over the DREAM Act is not between the anti-migrant and the pro-migrant, it is among pro-migrant advocates themselves.  If we can get pro-migrant advocates to unite behind the DREAM Act, it will pass, pure and simple. 

Furthermore, our problem in migrant advocacy has never been the numbers.  Elections and polls have shown consistently that most U.S. citizens are pro-migrant.  Our problem has always been that pro-migrant people are not as vocal as nativists are.  I'm not even unauthorized and I can't tell you what a downer it is to pour all my heart into the passing the DREAM Act, only to have someone tell me that I'm being "anti-Mexican" as Erendira Guerra suggested above.  Imagine what that does to someone that is on-the-fence about supporting the DREAM Act or dedicating time to it, and that's without even mentioning unauthorized youth. 

This will bring me to the last argument that I will make against folks like Erendira Guerra and other organizations that Dream Activist has rightly called out like "the Association of La Raza Educators, Immigrant Solidarity Network, American Friends and Service Committee, a few Latino immigrant rights activists, and...the National Lawyers Guild."

Dream Activist has already rightly brought up that Latinos are already being recruited in record numbers into the military, and that the military is already recruiting authorized and unauthorized migrants into it.  As I've already mentioned, the first person to die in Iraq for the U.S. was a Guatemalan, Jose Gutierrez, who formerly an unauthorized migrant.

The war that Anti-DREAMers never mention, however, is the war that is already occuring in the U.S.A.  Nativists have given this war a name and it has been adopted at the highest levels of government.  Nativists call this war "Attrition Through Enforcement."  As I've mentioned multiple times, nativists know that they can't deport millions of unauthorized migrants.  The solution that they've come up with is that they want to make life so miserable for unauthorized migrants that they leave on their own.  That's what "attrition" means.  It's a military term that means wearing down your enemy to the point of collapse. 

Unauthorized migrant youth are the victims of this war everyday.  They are victims of this war when they choose to stop studying, because they see no hope for their future.  They are victims of this war when they give up on waiting for the DREAM act and choose to go home.  They are victims of this war when their families are torn apart and their lives are ended by Immigration and Custom's Enforcement.  They are victims of this war when bad people prey on them because they know that unauthorized migrant youth will not go to the police.  They are victims of this war when they succumb to fear instead of hope.  This war is no less violent than the multiple wars the U.S. supports abroad.  They are both part of the same epidemic of violence in the U.S.  When migrant advocates delay and oppose the enactment of the DREAM Act, they allow this war to continue.

Fortunately, the DREAMers at Dreamactivist.org, and the youth that I work closely with in the Student Immigrant Movement have chosen not to be victims of this war.  They have answered the call of history and they are standing up for what is right and is good.  They are standing up for the right to exist in the only country they know as their home. 

It is important that allies like myself stand alongside them.  If we feel squeemish about the DREAM Act, the solution is not to oppose it outright, but to support it at the same time that we work towards taking out the military provision of the DREAM Act and putting in the community service provision of the DREAM Act.  If you are not swayed by my the multiple arguments that I've made, then all I ask is that we all stand with our unauthorized brothers and sisters.  Nothing less is on the line than their own humanity and their right to exist. 

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The "DREAM Now Series: Letters to Barack Obama" is a social media campaign that launched Monday, July 19, to underscore the urgent need to pass the DREAM Act. The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, S. 729,... Read More

5 Comments

Prerna said:

Thanks Kyle.

Immigrant rights organizations take us for a ride, politicians also succumb to using us as carrot sticks, and these conscientious objectors read passages from their leftist books, hang Che posters, sing 'Viva La Revolution' and have the audacity to complain about 'military provisions.'

I am really not about to tolerate anymore 'Oppose the DREAM Act' militarization crap from people who have absolutely no idea what it means to be an undocumented youth in America. It is different when it comes from a fellow undocumented student but I am yet to have someone tell me "I am an undocumented youth and I oppose the DREAM Act. Please stop advocating for me." No, most people send fan mails.

How someone advocates openly against legalization opportunities for a certain community--a young community--while calling himself an immigrant rights advocate is beyond me.

You would also notice that most, if not ALL, of these dissenters are men. That also says a lot to me--a queer woman of color--about how the privilege afforded to a particular gender is operationalized to oppress those who are perceived to be 'less-than' or underprivileged. It is completely and utterly a case of 'men's burden' and a 'save immigrant youth from their own self' complex.

Next time, I am just going to point these people to the 4-5 posts we have about this and tell them 'case-closed.'

kyledeb Author Profile Page said:

Exactly, Prerna. From now on, we can say "case-closed." Thanks for your continued courage, Prerna, and your support.

Mario said:

In response to Americans who are overachievers and can't to seem a great job, it is not b/c many successful immigrants took your position or jobs it is b/c you haven't met the requirements of any position. And yes, the DREAM does mention military is also an option along with an better education, it is also a sense that many recruiters will most likely target most immigrants and promise them w/ falsified benefits. So yes, the DREAM act can have a negative side and positive, I believe when this act is passed most should take college into consideration before joining the military.

Sinovia Hurado said:

The DREAM Act and immigration policies have been in the tip of everybody's tongue lately. It is difficult position being pro or con the DREAM Act. I am truly for the DREAM Act because I have had many personal encounters with depressed seniors graduating from high school with a 4.0 GPA, who are not eligible to go to the college of their choice. Talking for the junior class of high school students, it is difficult already to get into the university of your choice. Nonetheless, you can be undocumented and meet ALL the requirements for the university, BUT, still not be able to receive a higher education because of that paper, card, or "document" verifying that your a citizen. Dreams are often destroyed in America, but they don't need to be any longer. They call this country "The Land of Opportunity" lets work to make this statement be valid.


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This page contains a single entry by kyledeb published on March 29, 2009 12:00 AM.

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