Electoral politics is a dirty, messy affair that seems to inevitably involve heart wrenching compromise. Such is the case with the DREAM Act.
Earlier this week, Nevada Senator and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pledged to bring the DREAM Act to a vote in the Senate next week.
There’s the rub. Both Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) and The DREAM Act are being pushed not as stand alone bills but rather as amendments to a Defense Authorization bill, which gives funds to the U.S. so that they can fight in imperial wars like in Iraq and Afghanistan. Note how Reid prefaced introducing the DREAM Act with the number of Latinos in the military, not the number of Latinos who are in college or should be going to college.
I have written extensively over the years about the DREAM Act, mostly in support, especially in support of the amazing activists and organizers, young men and women, primarily students of color. But I have also written about its complexities, like the military service component and how some of the narrative language being used make me uncomfortable because some of it promotes this good v bad immigrant dichotomy and relies on making ever country outside the U.S. as exotically frightening.
But, this comes from a place of privilege. Because of the colonized status of my family, I am a U.S. citizen. I do not live in fear of ICE deporting me. I can apply for a job fairly easily.
The process for DADT and the DREAM Act to pass is complex one. Each amendment is voted on separately. The Senate can get rid of each amendment by voting on it directly or by voting to table it. The motion to table cannot be debated; and, if the Senate agrees to it, the effect is the same as a vote to defeat the amendment. If the Senate defeats the motion, however, debate on the amendment may resume.
And there’s more:
While an amendment is pending, senators may propose amendments to it (called second-degree amendments) and to the part of the measure the amendment would change. The Senate votes on each of these amendments before it votes on the first-degree amendment (the amendment to the measure). Many additional complications exist.
When a complete substitute for a measure is pending, for example, senators can propose six or more first- and second-degree amendments to the substitute and the measure before any votes must occur.
If an amendment is considered under a time limitation, senators may make no motions or points of order, or propose other amendments, until all the time for debating the amendment has been used or yielded back. Sometimes, however, the Senate unanimously consents to lay aside pending amendments temporarily in order to consider another amendment to the measure.
The amending process continues until the Senate orders the bill engrossed and read a third time, which precludes further amendment. Then the Senate votes on final passage.
Already the anti-immigrant sentiments of some Republican politicians are showing. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senators David Vitter, Orrin Hatch, Lindsey Graham and John McCain all have come out against the DREAM Act Amendment. McCain also came out against the addition of the DADT language. The resistance comes with the message that DREAM and DADT are not related to the military. In turn this has orgs messaging how DREAM and DADT will benefit the military.
I often get heat for going against the official messaging and I know I’m gonna get heat for not going along with this specific framing of the DREAM Act as good for helping the military grow. I do not want the U.S. military to grow. I do not want more aggressive recruiting of youth in my neighborhood to go fight in imperial wars. I do want undocumented youth to be able to study and make a path for their future. I do want some movement towards justice for all immigrants so that no one lives in fear.
I hate the U.S. political system for the way it works.