The Complicated Messy Way the DREAM is Coming

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.

Dizzy yet?

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.

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9 comments on “The Complicated Messy Way the DREAM is Coming
  1. complicated and messy indeed. Trust me, this is no picnic for DREAMers either. Sadly, the question at hand is, do we pass (or at least try) it now in this way or risk not seeing it again for years. I know I can’t deal with the latter.

  2. Having met you and other DREAMers, I can’t even imagine the internal struggle and it’s the fault of the system.

    Gracias for commenting.

    Love y fuerza, especially with all that is happening now!!

  3. I found the last paragraph in Meagan’s article to be very compelling and insightful.I know exactly where she’s coming from on this one..
    I myself have had serious doubts about the wisdom of supporting a DREAM act with the powerful military component written into it.
    Believe it or not, there are actually some Latinos who see the DREAM act as nothing more than a cynical deception meant to bolster and reinforce the US military during a time when it is aggressively pursuing illegal criminal wars of imperialism around the world.
    This is the MO of the US,pervert and twist everything with a potential for good into something corrupted and evil.This is how the US operates.
    The US military has placed a premium on actively recruiting Latino youth.The DREAM act would especially benefit The United States Military Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) which is one of ten global regional commands within the US military structure,it is responsible for military action in Latin America.At this time the US has documented war plans on the books already put together to be activated at any time.
    They have plans and they are ready to go.
    With an imploding Mexico taking place before our eyes,with a number of hostile Latin American governments who dare criticize and oppose US policies,wars and imperialism,the US could at any time decide to intervene,invade or make war on any of them.
    What could be more beneficial and effective for the US military than having hundreds of thousands of bi-lingual DREAM act Latinos available for language,intelligence,torture and combat duties.
    This is a DREAM come true..for the military!!
    I think it is critically important that all these contradictions arising out of the Latino/Immigrant rights movement,it’s ongoing struggle,be sincerely and respectfully discussed and debated.
    Yes,we need a powerful united front based on consensus,but such a consensus must be based on honest and principled dialogue.

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  5. Chicano Future Tense:

    “At this time the US has documented war plans on the books already put together to be activated at any time.”

    You mean war plans for invading countries in Latin America?

  6. in response to bryan j’s question to my post..

    “At this time the US has documented war plans on the books already put together to be activated at any time.”

    Q-You mean war plans for invading countries in Latin America?

    A-Yes,bryan j,war plans for invading countries in Latin America.
    -what a novel idea for the US military..eh?

  7. A good post Mala, and yes, it is a very tough place for everyone fighting their hearts out for DREAM right now, especially the DREAMers themselves. They are doing an amazing job though.

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