For 10 days, a group of illegal immigrants had staged a round-the-clock hunger strike in front of the building in Midtown Manhattan that houses Senator Charles E. Schumer’s office, calling on him to take immediate action on a bill that would provide a path to citizenship for young illegal immigrants.
But on Thursday, after several of them had grown weary or ill, they brought the protest to a dramatic close, staging a “die-in” in front of the building and sit-ins in Mr. Schumer’s offices in Washington and Melville, N.Y.
The protesters, some of them students, have been calling for Congress to pass the so-called Dream Act, a bill that would offer legal status to illegal immigrant students who were brought to the United States as children. Mr. Schumer has been the target of their activism because, as as chairman of a Senate subcommittee on immigration, he wields large influence over the passage of such legislation.
While members of Mr. Schumer’s staff have spoken with the protesters at various times during the strike, the senator has not granted them a meeting.
The die-in, which involved several of the protesters collapsing on the sidewalk on Third Avenue, blocking the building’s entrance, ended when the police warned them they would be arrested if they did not move, and the strikers got up and left.
The sit-ins in Washington and Melville were still continuing as of midafternoon.
Division among lawmakers — about whether to handle the Dream Act as part of an omnibus legislative approach to comprehensive immigration reform or to deal with it separately — has stalled the bill.
While Mr. Schumer has championed the idea of the Dream Act, he recently co-authored a detailed blueprint for comprehensive immigration reform that included the bill’s provisions.
“Our lives can’t wait, our dreams can’t wait,” Marisol Ramos, one of the protest organizers, told a throng of about 80 supporters and news media gathered near 47th Street and Third Avenue to witness the denouement of the hunger strike.
The protest began June 1 with 10 participants, some of them students. Over the course of the strike, several dropped out because of illness but were replaced by others. One woman was hospitalized but released after a day, said one of the protest leaders, Gabriel Martinez, 27, who was forced to withdraw from the strike on Monday due to low blood pressure.
----- Forwarded Message ----
Subject: Still Waiting, Still DREAMing
by Jorge Mariscal with Mónica Jaúregui
>From Draft NOtices,January-March 2010
"The problem that has consistently plagued DREAM Act language reappears in Gutierrez's bill - there is no such thing as a two-year military enlistment contract. The implication that two years of military service can lead to permanent residency is misleading, and DREAM Act supporters have been remiss in ignoring this important detail. When poorly understood by undocumented youth, this fine print could track those youth directly into the armed forces with no understanding of what they have signed up for."
"Moreover, some Latino activists have pointed to the fact that the CIR ASAP legislation calls for increased militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border. Operation Gatekeeper and earlier attempts to seal the border have led to increased death tolls for undocumented workers. By burying the DREAM provisions in a bill that progressive Latinos might otherwise oppose, the Gutierrez proposal adds yet another layer of militarized solutions to the issue of how undocumented youth, most of whom would enlist seeking an affordable education, might earn the legal status they deserve."
"At the same time, many youth from recently arrived immigrant families operate out of a naive patriotism that grows out of a sense of "gratitude." Their living conditions here are usually so far superior to what they were in their country of origin that they believe they have to "give back" or "make a difference." Military recruiters prey on these very real emotions."
"1) the DREAM was to a large degree developed and written by the Pentagon. One need only read Senator Durbin's testimony. It was not about education. It was strictly about making a pool of young, bilingual, U.S.-educated, high-achieving students available to the recruiters"
"Lt. Col. Margaret Stock, one of the key consultants who helped draft DREAM Act legislation, recently wrote: "Because attending college is a very expensive proposition, the third option - joining the armed forces - is a likely choice for many of the young people who would be affected by the bill, hundreds of whom have already demonstrated an interest in joining the military." Senator Durbin has emphasized repeatedly his hope that DREAMers will be a windfall for military recruiters."
"On the one hand, undocumented young people deserve a pathway to legalization, especially on the educational track. On the other hand, immigrant communities must be made aware of the reality of the relationship between militarization, military enlistment and immigration status. Here are some of the most important facts:
- All military enlistment contracts are for eight years, not two.
- Those who choose the military option but receive a less than honorable discharge may be subject to immediate deportation.
- Students who receive conditional permanent residency under the proposed law would not be eligible for federal college financial aid such as Pell grants.
- Conditional permanent residency does not equal Lawful Permanent Residency (LPR). Conditional residency lasts only six years.
- Citizenship can only be gained through the normal naturalization process; LPR status does not guarantee citizenship.
- Those who do not fulfill education or military requirements by the end of the six-year probation period may be subject to immediate deportation.
"Organizers also should familiarize themselves with the numerous cases of U.S. military veterans who face deportation proceedings upon leaving the military. The "Banished Veterans" website (http://www.banishedveterans.info/) contains numerous stories of veterans who fought overseas only to be detained in immigration centers and returned to their family's country of origin. It cannot be emphasized enough that military service does not guarantee citizenship."
The article also proposes some fruitful areas for activists to focus their energy in improving legislation at the end of the article...
Subject: The DREAM Act and its Military Option by Association of Raza Educators Los Angeles, California
Sunday, May 23, 2010
The DREAM Act and its Military Option
Statement on the DREAM Act
by Association of Raza Educators Los Angeles, California
The Association of Raza Educators fully supports the educational component of the DREAM Act. We support higher education for all students, both documented and undocumented. However, as Raza Educators, who work with undocumented students on a daily basis; we denounce the military component of the DREAM Act. We feel compelled to educate our students and communities about the military component of the DREAM Act. Unfortunately, this deadly component is strategically excluded from the debate by many Democrats and organizations who support the DREAM Act.
As educators, we know that public education continues to fail to graduate more than half of our youth due to the structural, institutional, and social barriers. These barriers include underfunding, overcrowding, and racially segregated schooling that many Latinos must overcome. As a result of these conditions, of the few that do graduate, only a select few continue on to higher education. This means that the majority of Latino youth, most of which have been tracked out of the college system, will see military [enlistment] as the only viable option[.]
In essence, the Dream Act will create a de facto military draft for our undocumented youth. We say de facto because although students are given a "choice," the fact is that the deplorable and inadequate conditions of Latino schooling will make military enlistment the only "choice" for our undocumented youth.
As educators, we also know that in predominantly Latino high schools, military recruiters outnumber college representatives five to one. We have also seen first hand the misleading tactics military recruiters use to trick Latino youth to enlist. If the DREAM Act passes, military recruiters will further mislead and seduce our youth with false promises of instant legalization and a well paying job. They will completely militarize our youth and our schools.
With this reality, we pose the question; where will those students end up? Dead on the battlefield in Iraq or Afghanistan? Will they join the 6,000 troops that are currently occupying the U.S./ Mexico border?
If the US continues to invade other countries, will our youth be forced to kill other poor people in places like Venezuela, Iran and Cuba? Who will console the grieving mothers of our children who die in Iraq or who will return to their homes completely disfigured? The Dream Act will become the nightmare for the mothers and fathers of children who died in Iraq in search of a "Green Card." These Latino youth and our communities will become victims of the DREAM Act.
We believe that our students and our communities as a whole deserve full and immediate legalization without having to serve in the military. As long as the DREAM Act includes a military component, A.R.E. will continue to oppose it.
The Association of Raza Educators does not come here to antagonize or minimize the efforts of those who advocate for the Dream Act on behalf of undocumented students. We are here to challenge all organizations that support the DREAM Act to join us in the struggle for the legalization of all students and our entire community by supporting a stronger and more just bill that doesn't force any of our youth to join the U.S. military. We are all brothers and sisters in this struggle, but we must never negotiate the future of our youth in exchange for the legalization of a few of our students.
Please consider the following points:
There are currently 750,000 undocumented residents of military age
There are 35,000 Non-citizen legal residents in the U.S. Military
280,000 immigrants between the ages of 18-24 would qualify for the DREAM Act.
8,000 join the military each year as part of an accelerated path to citizenship (most legal residents already)
4,000 immigrants in uniform became citizens in 2005, compared to 750 in 2001
2006-2007 Public School Student Population in California: 2.8 million
Estimated Undocumented Student Population in California: 408,000
Number of undocumented students graduating each year: 65,000
Only 1 out of 20 undocumented high school seniors attends college
We have been working for the betterment of our communities long before the DREAM Act and we will continue to do so if it passes or hopefully, after it fails. We propose that all persons and organizations who have been actively supporting the DREAM Act join forces and continue to push for a DREAM Act without military provisions. When we remove the military provision, A.R.E. will work with you in this struggle. The DREAM Act's education component is a wonderful dream that we share with you.
Published in In Motion Magazine August 22, 2007
On the DREAM Act By Fernando Suárez Del Solar
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On the DREAM Act:
An Open Letter to Latino and Latina students and all leaders of
immigrant rights organizations
By Fernando Suárez Del Solar
In the wake of the failed immigration reform, passionate discussions
have arisen among various organizations both for and against the DREAM
It give me great joy to see students taking non-violent action to find
a solution to the immigration question. Many of them came to the
United States as children and have finished their high school
education. Now, because they lack legal documents, they face an
uncertain future that may deny them the opportunity to attend college
or find a decent job. The DREAM Act offers them a light at the end of
an otherwise dark and uncertain road.
I see students on fasts, in marches, lobbying elected officials, all
in the name of the DREAM Act's passage. But BEWARE. Be very careful.
Because our honorable youth with their dreams and wishes to serve
their new country are being tricked and manipulated in an immoral and
Why do I say this? Simply put, the DREAM Act proposes two years of
college as a pathway to permanent residency but it also includes a
second option linked to the so-called war on terror-"two years of
military service." Our young people may not see that this is a covert
draft in which thousands of youth from Latino families will be sent to
Iraq or some other war torn nation where they will have to surrender
their moral values and become a war criminal or perhaps return home in
black bags on their way to a tomb drenched with their parents' tears.
How many of our youth can afford college? How many will be able to
take the educational option? Unfortunately very few because the
existing system locks out the children of working families with high
tuition and inflated admissions criteria. Most will be forced to take
the military option to get their green card. But what good is a green
card to a dead person? What good is a green card to a young person
severely wounded in mind and body?
I ask our undocumented youth to read the following passages regarding
the plans of the Pentagon and the Bush administration:
In his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on July
10, 2006, Under Secretary of Defense David Chu said: "According to an
April 2006 study from the National Immigration Law Center, there are
an estimated 50,000 to 65,000 undocumented alien young adults who
entered the U.S. at an early age and graduate from high school each
year, many of whom are bright, energetic and potentially interested in
military service...Provision s of S. 2611, such as the DREAM Act, would
provide these young people the opportunity of serving the United
States in uniform."
More recently, Lt. Col. Margaret Stock of the U.S. Army Reserve and a
faculty member at West Point told a reporter that the DREAM Act could
help recruiters meet their goals by providing a "highly qualified
cohort of young people" without the unknown personal details that
would accompany foreign recruits. "They are already going to come
vetted by Homeland Security. They will already have graduated from
high school," she said. "They are prime candidates."
(Citations from research by Prof. Jorge Mariscal, UC San Diego)
As you can see, our undocumented youth are being targeted by military
recruiters. And equally important is something that few people have
mentioned-there is no such thing as a two year military contract.
Every enlistment is a total of eight years.
Given these facts, I invite all young people who are filled with hope
and dreams and energy to fight for human rights and for a fair pathway
to legalization. But they must also demand that the military option
of the DREAM Act be replaced by a community service option (as
appeared in earlier drafts of the legislation) so that community
service or college become the two pathways to permanent residency.
Only then will they avoid becoming victimized by a criminal war as my
son Jesús Alberto did when he died on March 27, 2003 after stepping on
an illegal U.S. cluster bomb. Through education or community service
our undocumented youth can contribute to their communities and their
future will be filled with peace and justice.
Fernando Suarez del Solar
============ ========= ========= ========= ========= =====
[ ed. this is at least a couple years old or so]
Should We Support the Dream Act?
There are currently 750,000 undocumented residents of military age.
There are 35,000 non-citizens in the U.S. military.
280,000 immigrants between the ages of 18-24 years would qualify for
the Dream Act.
8,000 join the military each year to take advantage of an accelerated
4,000 immigrants in uniform became citizens in 2005, compared to 750
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As a policy, the NLG Military Law Task Force (MLTF) does not
support coercive measures whether it be through military bonuses,
educational programs, career opportunities, non-incarceration (jail
or the military), citizenship, or citizenship speed-ups, etc., that
induce enlistment, re-enlistment, or continued service in the armed
forces of the United States.
There are several reasons for this:
1) Members of the Armed Forces are currently under Stop Loss,
which means that they are indentured servants, serve at the whim of
the President of the United States, and can be forced to remain the
rest of their lives under military control. If soldiers think they
will be eligible to walk away from the military after two years,
they are wrong. (Current military contracts run for eight years,
but can be extended far beyond that.)
2) Maintaining "Good Moral Character," especially in the military,
translates into the possible need to repress, torture, and imprison
-- all for the purpose of guaranteeing that the rich can trod on
the poor and wage wars without any fear of retribution and/or
control by any other peoples of the world.
In this matter, it is not the people who will decide good moral
character, it is both the Departments of Homeland Security and
3) Refusing to serve "honorably" in the U.S. military results in
service members going AWOL or UA. In past wars, resistance to the
U.S. military has meant fraggings, turning the guns around, and a
heavy level of anti-war activity, which the government would not
translate as "good moral character." The purpose of the MLTF is to
defend the rights of service members to resist illegal wars,
immoral laws, torture, etc. The Dream Bill will further erode the
rights of those resisting brutal wars and play into the
government's desire to have the necessary troops available for its
imperialistic wars. The Dream Bill will lead to one segment of the
movement sacrificing the other for an easier and quicker citizenship.
The Dream Act's primary purpose is to make a pool of those seeking
citizenship into a pool of tens of thousands of recruitable
soldiers doing the bidding of the U.S. government. It is, in fact,
an easier way to recruit than hiring foreign and American civilian
private mercenaries. As the recruits go down in the U.S., however,
don't also expect the recruitment of those in El Salvador, Chile,
Philippines, and wherever else to go down.
The current draft is an economic one: it is a poverty draft. The
Dream Act makes it all a little easier for the Department of
Defense to find the cannon fodder to eat up. The soldiers will
continue to come from the ranks of the poor.
____________ _________ _________ _________ _________ _
For more information on the Act, google the following:
http://nilc. org/immlawpolicy /DREAM/index. htm
From the DREAM ACT:
During the 6-year period, the student would be required to
graduate from a 2-year college, complete at least 2 years towards a
4-year degree, or serve in the U.S. military for at least 2 years.
Permanent residence would be granted at the end of the 6-year
period if the student has met these requirements and has continued
to maintain good moral character.
2. Served in the U.S. armed forces for at least 2 years.
The 6-year time period for meeting these requirements would be
extendable upon a showing of good cause, and the Dept. of Homeland
Security would be empowered to waive the requirements altogether if
compelling reasons such as disability prevent their completion and
if removal of the student would result in exceptional and extremely
unusual hardship to the student, or to the student's spouse, parent
(www.nlgmltf.org or www.militarylawtaskforce.org)