The DREAM Will Never Die: Senate Blocks The DREAM Act 55-41

| | Comments (6)

Above are Renata and Ada repping the Student Immigrant Movement, which I am a proud member of, but see this post from United We Dream for more reflections from the leaders of the migrant youth movement.

By now you've probably heard that the DREAM Act was blocked in the U.S. Senate by five Democrats and 36 Republicans.  Before I continue I want to be clear about what happened: 

Everywhere I look mainstream media who up until this point as all but ignored the migrant youth movement is writing headlines like "DREAM Act Defeated", "DREAM Act Fails",  or "DREAM Act Dies."  The DREAM Act did not fail, the U.S. Senate failed the DREAM Act.  Only in very recent times has a passing vote of 216-198 in the U.S. House and a vote of 55-41 in the U.S. Senate meant failure.  I'm not going to get sidetracked into a diatribe about filibuster abuse in the U.S. Senate, right now.  I just wanted to tell everyone who feels the same emptiness in their stomach that I do, right now, that you didn't fail, the broken procedures of the U.S. Senate failed you. 

At the same time, for those of us that are committed to real business of making change in this world, we know that we're not dealing with the world as we'd like it to be, but with the world as it is.  In the world as it is, we needed 60 votes out of 100 in the undemocratic U.S. Senate in order to emancipate of hundreds of thousands of young undocumented Americans.  We all knew we needed 60 votes, and we didn't get them.  There will be plenty of time to analyze why we didn't get those 60 votes, but right now I just wanted to lay out some steps I think those of us in the movement should be taking.  I say all of the following first acknowledging my own 24-year-old inexperience and shortcomings in these matters.
The first thing I wanted to say to everyone, particularly to my undocumented herman@s, is take care of yourself.  Whether you're an organizer that has been doing this for years, or someone still in the shadows that has been watching this whole thing unfold from the sidelines, take whatever steps necessary in the coming days, weeks, or even months, to get your body, your mind, and your spirit back on track to be in the best place that it can possibly be.  Don't run away from or ignore the pain, anger, or even hopelessness you're feeling right now.  Acknowledge it, even harness it, and do what you need to do to get back to a healthy place. 

For the many of you that just don't have the means at your disposal to get back to a healthy place please do the hard thing and reach out to other people in the movement and ask for help.  I say that knowing how hard it is to reach out, especially when you're not in the right place, but I can also tell you how amazing it feels when you do reach out and find out there are people in this movement who will be there for you.  I have to specifically mention, here, anyone who's allowing thoughts of suicide to enter their minds.  I don't think there are adequate words for anyone in that situation.  All I can do is plead with all of my heart that you reach out and feel just how valued you are to others in this world and to God.  I also ask everyone in this movement to be vigilant and make sure those around you are doing well. For anyone that wants to reach out to me, I'm always an email away.

The second thing I wanted to say to everyone is that in times like this, when the ephemeral world fails you time and time again, the best thing you can do is draw strength from something ethereal, by which I mean heavenly or celestial.  For the vast majority of us I think that means drawing strength from friends and family, people who will be there for you no matter what and who mean something to you far beyond any Senate vote.  But what I really mean is the way I've learned to stay committed to making change in this world is by drawing strength from religion, and my commitment to God.  That means something very specific in my faith, but in the many spokes that make up the wheel of Truth, it can mean any number of things.  Even a dispassionate student of history will show, I think, that the only sustainable revolutions are those that draw from faith.  Don't believe me?  Read historian Eric Hobsbawm and his analysis of millenarian movements in Primitive Rebels.   

Finally, and most importantly in the context of this post, after you've done the first two things, get back into the fightFlavia over at said it first and probably said it better: "There are battles everywhere, over access to education, in-state tuition, financial aid, driver's licenses... the list goes on. We have only just begun."  I might even steal her Oscar Romero quote at the end of this post, too.  He says it better than almost anyone.  My only tiny qualm with Flavia's post is that she says "If you feel like giving up, you are entitled to do so."  It depends on what "giving up" means, but I don't think anyone is entitled "give up," generally.  By all means, take care of your body, mind, and spirit before you start going around trying to save the rest of the world.  If you're not in the right place physically, mentally, or spiritually, taking a break to get on the right track is not optional, it's necessary.  You can't clean the world with dirty hands.   

If you're thinking of giving up, though, because you wanted the DREAM Act to pass so that you could go along with you're merry life, make lots of money, have a family, and wall yourself off from the world with a white picket fence, I've got news for you.  Today it's unauthorized migrants, but tomorrow it will be someone else that is suffering from a horrific injustice.  There will always be injustices in this flawed world.  Undocumented youth are learning to fight it and they are fighting it effectively because they almost don't have any other choice, but we've all got to work on getting to a place where we fight injustice not because we have to but because we choose to.  We've all got to make justice a part of our everyday lives.  Those who have successfully done so will tell you it's not a huge burden, on the contrary it's the source of much of the joy and meaning in their lives.

There will be plenty of time to talk about exactly how to get back into the fight, but for now, I wanted to finish with this.  I titled this post the DREAM will never die.  Any student of history will tell you that the DREAM can die.  Some will probably be unhappy with me for acknowledging that, or even for acknowledging our own human weaknesses in all of the above.  We've already lost millions of unauthorized migrants due to a combination of a faltering economy, stepped up violence against our communities by the government, and the nativists' "attrition through enforcement."  For anyone that thinks it's not possible to deport or force out another ten million unauthorized migrants they just aren't being honest about the depths to which evil and injustice will plunge. 

If we take care of ourselves, sustain ourselves by drawing strength from something greater than this world can hold, and get back into the fight though, then I have faith that the DREAM will never die.  I also have faith that many of the amazing leaders and organizers I've met over the years can do all of the above and more, and are probably already doing so.  It is my faith in us that leads me to say without equivocation that the DREAM will never die.  On the contrary it will thrive and grow much like Archbishop Oscar Romero's seeds in Flavia's post.  I will now end by borrowing from her:

No statement says all that could be said. No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession brings perfection. No pastoral visit brings wholeness. No program accomplishes the Church's mission. No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about: We plant seeds that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces effects beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for God's grace to enter and do the rest. We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own. Amen.
Oscar Romero

digg | | delish


AskMeHowImDoing Author Profile Page said:

That was a very Well written post thank u for the hope we all need it so much right now even my parents seem to have lost it after yesterdays vote but I won't give up

kyledeb Author Profile Page said:

Thanks so much for your words. I'm sorry to hear your parents have lost hope, and I'm glad that you haven't. If there's anything I can do you know where to reach me.

Glen Author Profile Page said:

Thank you Kyle for these words to all of us. I wept with many of us yesterday. We look toward and long for a better future. I commit myself, and many others will commit to work toward a more just society. God bless you and keep you and all of those who will struggle for justice, love, and peace.

kyledeb Author Profile Page said:

Thank you Glen, for your words, support, and your continued commitment. They are greatly appreciated, and I know we'll be working together more in the future!

Thanks, Kyle, for writing this. I have gained so much more from this movement than I have given. Every day I am inspired by the courage of Dreamers and allies, and I agree that the Dream will never die.

kyledeb Author Profile Page said:

Thanks Dave, for your comment here and your latest post. Happy to have you fighting alongside with me in this movement.

Leave a comment

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by kyledeb published on December 19, 2010 4:54 AM.

Guest Post: Illegal is illegal, the law is the law, and ice cream is ice cream was the previous entry in this blog.

Let DREAMers Lead, Allies Must Follow is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.