Several e-mails have circulated recently asking Gray Panthers to call their legislators urging passage of the Dream Act (US Senate bill 774, Durban). I would urge Gray Panthers NOT to support the Dream Act for these reasons:
(1) The Dream Act provides strong incentive for young undocumented immigrants to risk their lives in the military forces in Iraq, killing or being killed to defend the same exploitative foreign policies that pauperized their home countries and forced them to migrate to the US in the first place. It would supplement an economic draft with a green card draft. Given the military Stop Loss policy and the indefinite extensions of Iraq tours of duty, and the call-backs of soldiers after only one year stateside, it insults our intelligence to say that immigrants would be eligible for permanent residence after only 2 years of military service. Immigrants are already doing disproportionate military duty. In spite of dangerous conditions, extended tours of duty, and inadequate training and equipment, “Hispanic” military recruitment has increased 22% since the beginning of the Iraq war, according to the Pentagon. For more on the Dream Act as military recruitment more than impetus for higher education, see
(2) The Dream Act offers legalization to only that small proportion of immigrants who can already attend college, even 2-year college, and does little or nothing to address the real barriers to college for immigrants: high costs for tuition, fees, books, and housing; terrible elementary and high schools in areas where immigrants live, particularly for students with limited English skills; and exploitative jobs and lack of support services for immigrant parents. States already have the option of offering in-state tuition for undocumented students. Some statistics show that for every Hispanic student attending 2 or 4 year college, twenty are not. Given these unaddressed barriers, military service will be legalization option most used, not college. — Moreover, legalizing only a small proportion of immigrants has the effect of dividing the immigrant community which last year vehemently rejected divisive proposals that would have offered different legalization options for immigrants residing here for different lengths of time. Gray Panthers’ position should be solidarity with immigrants and a demand for complete and unconditional amnesty for all immigrants.
(3) While it is true that there are mainstream immigrant organizations that support the Dream Act, there are also immigrant organizations that oppose it, on the grounds outlined above. See
Watch a video of Latins protesting a LULAC-sponsored job fair in Chicago that featured military recruiters.
This statement is personal opinion, and has not been recently voted on by the SF Gray Panthers Board. Our Board did take a position against the Dream Act in 2006 and publicized it in public statements, discussions, and banners in immigration marches. This statement has the current support of a number of Network Board members and activists.