Currently the DREAM Act Movement is being trashed by both the conservative and leftist tendencies within the Migrant Rights Movement. Reform Immigration for America (RIFA), a right-wing tendency within the movement supportive of an enforcement and militarization approach to Immigration Reform, has reportedly asked that the Senate not move forward with the DREAM Act. While on the other side, radical/revolutionary-minded folks are also critiquing the DREAM Act Movement for not being radical at all and for supporting legislation that feeds into the military industrial complex and the academic industrial complex.
So where does this leave the Dreamers?
To share a little bit about myself, I myself was an arrestee in the sit-in that took place in Senator John McCain’s office on May 17th in Tucson, Arizona to push for the passage of the DREAM Act. I chose to participate despite my own critiques of the DREAM Act. After meeting with the Dreamers and hearing their powerful life stories and listening to their plans of getting arrested despite the risk of deportation, I was deeply moved and compelled to participate. Their conviction, passion and willingness to sacrifice and push the envelope is admirable. It’s good to have constructive critiques, definitely. However, we have to check our privilege and recognize that this is undocumented youth determining their fight and making themselves the subjects not the objects of debate; they are putting themselves at the forefront of a struggle essentially for equal access to education. (It is important to point out the demographics of the DREAM Act 5: None us were U.S. citizens, 3 were womyn and most of us queer.) Yes, the DREAM Act is reformist. And yes, the DREAM Act is problematic for feeding into the military industrial complex. But regardless of our feelings on the DREAM Act, it is undeniable that the DREAM Movement has emerged as the most organized, “radical”, concrete and viable alternative defying the enforcement approach proposed by right-wing pro-Immigration Reform organizations like RIFA. As a recent article’s title suggests, the most visible forces within our movement can be simplified to “RIFA versus the DREAM Movement”.
So where does this leave the radical/revolutionary tendency of our movement?
Since SB 1070 blew up nationally, there have been a series of nonviolent civil disobedience actions across the country which have tended to be more militant in analysis and demands than the DREAM Movement. Beginning with the Capitol 9 in Phoenix and subsequent actions in Los Angeles, Tucson, New York City, Santa Ana and other places, there’s huge revolutionary potential here yet low capacity for long-term massive coordination and sustainability of direct action mobilizing. These actions seem to be sporadic and disconnected with no clear strategy in sight.
This is at a time when our community is the most radicalized and militant it has ever been, yet the most visible/radical element getting all the attention in the mainstream media is the DREAM Movement?! Dang. This begs the question: What’s wrong with the Left? What are we doing wrong? Instead of just critiquing the DREAM, why don’t we ask ourselves why we are allowing this NIGHTMARE called Amerikkka to continue unchallenged? Why are we allowing Border Patrol Pigs to taser, torture, terrorize and assassinate our people? How could it be that we idly sit by continuing our everyday lives uninterrupted as 7 year-old Brisenia Flores and her father are shot to death by White supremacists in Arizona or 14 year-old Sergio Adrian Hernandez is shot in the head by an agent in El Paso, Texas??? Why do we allow Arizona to be ground zero for police brutality against Latinos and the site of a quiet GENOCIDE against thousands of our sisters and brothers that have lost their lives crossing the desert—year after year after year??? How could we let this government get away with genocide and terrorism? What’s going on with our movement? Our strategy? Our tactics? Why are we letting this once in a lifetime opportunity to push our revolutionary visions to the forefront of the movement slip through our fingers? Where have our clenched fists gone? Why are we hiding behind our comfort? Where’s our dignity? Where’s our courage? Where is our commitment to our families and our visions of freedom? Whether it’s the DREAM Act or Immigration Reform, WE CANNOT depend or place our hopes on politicians of either party to be persuaded to side with justice or morality. If this is our strategy we will be waiting for a very long time and have lost from the very beginning.
Have we forgotten about the legacies of Harriet Tubman? Ricardo Flores Magon? Reies Lopez Tijerina? Assata Shakur? Robert F. Williams? Malcolm X? The Black Panther Party? Loilta Lebron? Silvia Rivera? Comandanta Ramona? If there was ever a moment to build on their legacies, it is now. Lobbying, voter registration drives, vigils and marches are obviously not gonna get us anywhere except backwards… nonviolent civil disobedience actions must continue, but that ain’t gonna get us much further either; not in violent Nazi-zona, not in violent Amerikkka.
So where does that leave you?
What are you doing as an organizer or activist fighting for the liberation of our people? What are you proposing? What are you doing? How are you taking things to the next level? Are you being creative? Are you pushing the envelope? What are you scared of? Are you being revolutionary to your fullest potential? Are you sacrificing yourself and your lifestyle like the Dreamers did? The Dreamers quit their jobs. They left their families, cities and communities. They came to Arizona and not just for a day or for a march. They got one-way tickets to support movement-building in Arizona and got arrested and are now facing possible deportation. If you were born with the privilege of having U.S. citizenship and claim to be radical or revolutionary or supportive of that in any way, I ask “how are you challenging your comfort and privilege to achieve visions of social justice?” Furthermore, I ask all people: “what are you doing to build upon the militant/revolutionary herstory of our ancestors whom resisted colonization by any and all means necessary?” Only by reflecting on these questions will we get to formulating concrete next steps that will truly cause an impact on this decadent political, economic, social system we live in. It is not acceptable to be racially-profiled. It is not acceptable to get separated from our families. It is not acceptable for massacres to take place because of U.S. border policies. It is not acceptable for us to get raided, deported and assassinated. So why are we living like it is okay for these things to happen daily? Ethnic cleansing and genocide are at our doorstep. How do we plan to adequately respond to this grim reality?
Beyond a call to DREAM, this is a call for all of us to step it up, to walk the walk, to seize the moment, resist and struggle for the LIBERATION of all people.
Beyond a call to DREAM, this is a call for ACTION, REBELLION and REVOLUTION.
It’s now or never.
For our dreams to become reality it’s up to you, it’s up to us to make it happen.