Anti-Migrant Hate and Pro-Migrant Introspection
Make no mistake about it. The DREAM Act, the hope of almost a million
young people without a country, was crushed by anti-migrant hate.
Anti-migrant hate that has taken over the U.S. and is destroying the
entire hemisphere. It was incredible to see anti-migrant politicians take the defensive for the first time on this issue. Many said they had nothing against
these young people. But their hypocritical votes said differently.
Irrational anti-migrant advocates have taken control of them.
though anti-migrant hate was the cause, it shouldn’t prevent
pro-migrant advocates from introspection. I can’t help but feel that
putting hundreds of thousands of young people through yesterday’s
devastation should have been managed a little better. There are
inspiring messages of hope across the U.S. but I have also received emails and
heard of several young migrants saying they’ve lost hope and are preparing to leave the country.
I say that knowing the opposition will probably
say, “victory!” upon reading it, but the truth is it is a victory for
the countries they are migrating to. It would be a victory for
Guatemala, the country spent 18 years of my life in, to receive just
one of these talented young people. In a country where most people don’t get passed 6th grade, a high school education can go a long way towards doing some good.
Getting the DREAM Act on the Senate Floor
There is so much activism behind the DREAM Act, but it could be said that the it was the passion of one person for this cause that led to the Senate’s vote yesterday. Senator Richard J. Durbin, who’s words I wrote an entire post about yesterday, used his power to get the DREAM Act on the floor. For the first time in six years the DREAM Act was brought forth by itself to the Senate floor, to go forward or be left behind on its own merits.
Senator Durbin’s words brought forth such valuable concepts into the public sphere. Things I have been saying for a lifetime as born global citizen. Phrases like “kids without countries”, “America is better than that”, and “give these kids a chance”, will echo through the halls of the U.S. Senate and across the nation for many years to come. He had this to say in a conference call with some of us pro-migrant bloggers on Monday:
learned about 6 or 7 years ago about a young woman in my state who came
at the age of two from Korea, who’s parents never filed papers, and
couldn’t pursue her dream of college education because of that. I
thought it was unfair. And when I asked the immigration authorities
they said she only had one recourse and that was return to Korea — a
place where she’d never lived, and to a language she didn’t speak.
struck me as totally unfair. When I looked beyond her case I found so
many more — hundreds of others. Tomorrow’s nurse and teachers, and
scientists and engineers, people who are going to create business, and
really make this a better country. And they’re asking only for a
chance. And I hope tomorrow we can bring the votes together to make
But Senator Durbin did not bring the votes together to make that happen and it’s leaving many activists wondering why it was even brought forth in the first place. Yesterday’s cloture vote was a prayer. That’s all it was. And some people are suggesting it was wrong to put hundreds of thousands of students through that roller-coaster ride of emotions and eventual defeat.
I know I was left questioning the tactics that were employed. The DREAM Act was put on the floor almost as if there was reason to be ashamed of it. Activists around the nation weren’t notified of the need to act until only a couple days before the vote. I think the reasoning was people didn’t want the opposition to get a hold of it.
Basically, pro-migrant advocates and politicians were afraid. But if the cloture vote was only going to be a prayer anyway, I would much rather have gone out swinging and marching on D.C. It should have been a much larger campaign that would have forced Republicans into the position of voting against children yet again, as with the SCHIP vote. The DREAM Act, more than any other legislation, exposes anti-migrant hate.
But migrant rights isn’t politically expedient for Democrats, right now.
Anti-Migrant Opposition to the DREAM Act
Even though I constantly write about anti-migrant hate, I never cease to be surprised. When Senator Durbin held a press conference with migrant youth in support of the DREAM Act, Presidential Candidate Tom Tancredo sent out a press release advocating for an ICE raid on the event:
“I call on the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency to detain any illegal aliens at this press conference. Just because these illegal aliens are being used for political gain doesn’t mean they get immunity from the law”
The New York Times had this to say about ICE’s response:
A spokeswoman for the immigration agency, Kelly Nantel, confirmed that
officials had received a letter from Mr. Tancredo and were reviewing
it. She said the agency took no action yesterday.
Normally I would say this proves that anti-migrant advocates want anyone who disagrees with them deported. That’s true, and it’s appalling. It runs completely contrary to the idea of a free country. But that’s not even the most ridiculous thing about this.
ALL OF THE YOUTH AT DURBIN’S PRESS CONFERENCE WERE LEGAL. Tom Tancredo must have been getting his news from Lou Dobbs because he got his facts wrong, too. According to Media Matters:
CNN’s Lisa Sylvester reported that the bill’s sponsors “held a news conference in the Capitol with illegal alien college students who’d benefit from the program,” and that “[o]pponents demanded federal immigration officials to detain the illegal aliens.” However, several media outlets have reported that the three students featured at the press conference all have temporary legal status.
Every time I write about Tom Tancredo, people just argue he’s an extremist and that his views shouldn’t be paid attention to. But, I don’t know how people can dismiss his views when he’s running for the highest office in the U.S. Even worse this horrendous error and prejudice extends to Lou Dobbs as well. This is worse than his leprosy gaff. Still, all of this isn’t as disheartening as the White House’s opposition to the DREAM Act.
According to the Associated Press, the Bush Administ
ration had this to say in a press statement:
While sympathetic to children brought into the country illegally by their parents, the White House
said in a statement the bill falls short by “creating a special path to
citizenship that is unavailable to other prospective immigrants –
including young people whose parents respected the nation’s immigration
The White House has now been frightened down the anti-migrant line. Just a year ago Bush said this in a prime time speech:
We cannot build a unified country by inciting people to anger, or
playing on anyone’s fears, or exploiting the issue of immigration for
political gain. We must always remember that real lives will be
affected by our debates and decisions, and that every human being has
dignity and value no matter what their citizenship papers say.
I can’t help but feel that the Bush administration used this for “political gain”. Anything to keep the Iraq war going.
In addition to these developments, the usual suspects beat their amnesty drums. I wonder when people are going to wake up to who these anti-migrant leaders are doing to the world.
Moving Forward in the Fight for Migrant Rights
I’ve gone on for a long time on this post, but I really felt as though someone had to write something comprehensive on the failure of the DREAM Act, and try to ask the right questions of pro-migrant advocates.
Whether we choose to pat ourselves on the back or not, we have to look ourselves in the mirror and own up to the fact that some immigrant youth have given up hope and decided to leave the country because of our failure. It’s the U.S.’s loss.
There is hope, though, and I see it in the eyes of migrant youth, and the people all across the nation and the world that came out in support of this bill.