Tuesday, August 7, 2007

On the DREAM Act and the U.S. Military

An Open Letter to Latino and Latina students and all leaders of immigrant rights organizations

By Fernando Suárez Del Solar

August 5, 2007

[Fernando Suarez del Solar, whose son Jesus, was one of the first U.S. servicemen killed in Iraq, become an outspoken peace activist, and Founder/Director Guerrero Azteca Project: http://www.guerreroazteca.org/]

In the wake of the failed immigration reform, passionate discussions have arisen among various organizations both for and against the DREAM Act.

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 criminal way.

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...Provisions 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

bh

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Comments

Well, here is one thing I can agree with you all on. The military should not be turned into a foreign legion. It is no wonder that the warmongering Neocons are also open borders fanatics.

There has been some good analysis of the casualty figures in Iraq, and generally it is a myth that blacks and hispanics are being killed or wounded disproportionately with their shared of the military aged population (say 19-30).

The data are here
http://siadapp.dmdc.osd.mil/personnel/CASUALTY/castop.htm , go to Iraqi Freedom, military deaths, all (demographics)

Whites at 74.5 percent of casualties are overrepresented versus percentage of the population and above their percentage of the military age population, say 18-30 year olds. If whites are only about .7 percent of that age population, then they (we) are being killed at a rate .25 higher than non whites, using the odds ratio test. Rural white kids fare worst of all.

Posted by: Mitchell Young | Aug 7, 2007 1:34:22 PM

The letter is well-taken. It indeed shows what a heavy price the illegal aliens have to pay to legalise in America-- perhaps their very life. How else can they prove their patriotism for their new homeland but by joining the army?! Since they are a disfavored group, why not send them away to die in Iraq?

Posted by: Narine Mkrtchyan | Aug 7, 2007 2:56:25 PM

As a potential beneficiary of the DREAM Act, I as well as most other undocumented students such as myself disagree with the opinion of this letter. Yes, the DREAM Act does offer us a light at the end a dark and uncertain road. But please do not presume to know or define what that light is for us. We are not ignorant of the fact that yes we are potential targets for military recruiters. But as I have read from hundreds of undocumented students, none has ever rejected the thought of serving this country that they call home. We are in every way an American citizen in our heart, in our mind, in our values, and in our patriotism.

Yes, undocumented students who are beneficiaries of the DREAM Act might just be hopeless and shortsighted and willing to do anything to find a way out of our immigration situation. But as the saying goes "If there is nothing worth dying for, what is worth living for?" That quote might be an extreme but the principle is the same is it not? We want an opportunity to choose and be an active part of this democratic society. What we see as an opportunity, immigration rights organizations might see as a fault, a problem, an unthinkable. Well, please take a second and see things through our prespective, isn't it our rights and our needs that these immigration organizations exist for?

Instead of opposing the DREAM Act, I speak for thousands of DREAM Act beneficiaries that please support this legislation with the military provision included. It might not be the perfect legislation to immigration rights organizations but let us make the decision to accept or reject the choices before us, we just want a choice. Let democracy work and compromise because it is fundamental to a democratic system. Please unite with us all Immigration Rights Organizations, we plea with you to unite behind this DREAM Act and let us choose how we will live our lives.

Posted by: anonmymous | Aug 7, 2007 7:42:36 PM

As a potential beneficiary of the DREAM Act, I as well as most other undocumented students such as myself disagree with the opinion of this letter. Yes, the DREAM Act does offer us a light at the end a dark and uncertain road. But please do not presume to know or define what that light is for us. We are not ignorant of the fact that yes we are potential targets for military recruiters. But as I have read from hundreds of undocumented students, none has ever rejected the thought of serving this country that they call home. We are in every way an American citizen in our heart, in our mind, in our values, and in our patriotism.

Yes, undocumented students who are beneficiaries of the DREAM Act might just be hopeless and shortsighted and willing to do anything to find a way out of our immigration situation. But as the saying goes "If there is nothing worth dying for, what is worth living for?" That quote might be an extreme but the principle is the same is it not? We want an opportunity to choose and be an active part of this democratic society. What we see as an opportunity, immigration rights organizations might see as a fault, a problem, an unthinkable. Well, please take a second and see things through our prespective, isn't it our rights and our needs that these immigration organizations exist for?

Instead of opposing the DREAM Act, I speak for thousands of DREAM Act beneficiaries; please support this legislation with the military provision included. It might not be the perfect legislation to immigration rights organizations but let us make the decision to accept or reject the choices before us, we just want a choice. Let democracy work and compromise because it is fundamental to a democratic system. Please unite with us all Immigration Rights Organizations, we plea with you to unite behind this DREAM Act and let us choose how we will live our lives.

Posted by: anonmymous | Aug 7, 2007 7:44:59 PM

Thank you for posting this urgent and needed piece. As an academic, having touched on this topic in a recent book, I'm reminded how powerful and immediate an effect this medium can have in reaching the many who need to read this. I'm also amazed at how "anonymous" postings can pretend to be and represent, say, "thousands of DREAM Act beneficiaries" in a prose that not only belies the need to fight for college admittance but whose authorial intent disparages every gain Latino leaders have made in opening our eyes for the last 30 years or so: patriotism literally loves us to death.

Posted by: Lazaro Lima | Aug 9, 2007 11:31:42 AM

Professor Lima

I am, to say the least, sickened by your ad hominim (sp)attack on the student who wrote it. I would expect better from someone with your educational background, to think that a personal attack such as that would be in any way a valid critique.

As a response to your surprise about how an anonymous posting can represent the point of view of thousands of potential DREAM Act beneficiaries, it goes to show that you know very little about the subject, and as such seriously question whether you have any validity writing about the subject. Undocumented youth are in an extremely vulnerable position, and as such, when they speak up it is often under conditions of anonymity or under pseudonyms, and for justifiable reasons. Those who have stood up have often been directly targeted, including by national politicians (including presidential candidates). That you would be surprised that an undocumented person would be hesitant to expose his or herself, despite their precarious position demonstrates at the very least some ignorance.

Posted by: Nicholas Espiritu | Aug 9, 2007 2:31:48 PM

Mr. Espiritu: You are absolutely right that an undocumented person would be hestitant to expose him or herself. And with very good reason. My point was that the post in question was likely not written by an undocumented student. You misread my post.

Posted by: Lazaro Lima | Aug 9, 2007 9:53:26 PM

A "covert draft"? C'mon...

Posted by: anonymous | Aug 10, 2007 6:50:41 AM

First let introduce myself. I am an undocumented student. Like many of my undocumented friends in college I struggle everyday. I work full time so I can pay high tuition in college. I also attend college fulltime. Everyday I think how can a piece of papers like SS card and green card determine our future. Many undocumented students graduated from top universities like Harbor, UCLA, and USC, but unable to practice their degree because of their immigration status. These students want to contribute to the economy of this great country.

In the Article the author mention. “How many of our youth can afford college? How many will be able to take the educational option?” Yes, the author is right. Not many undocumented students can afford college. Let me point out something that the author FAILS to mention. What at about all the undocumented students who are enroll in college? Do you think they have the money to afford college? No, they do not have the money. I am speaking for experience. Of course it takes someone with experience to answer these type of question. When it comes to attend college money should not matter at all. What matter are words motivation and the desires to obtain and education.

When I was in high school I wanted to join the military because I like the discipline and the workouts. The reason I did not join the military was because I was undocumented. If uncommented students decided to join the military let them; that’s their choice. We should respect each other decisions. People who oppose the Dream Act should realize that we all have different goals in life. Like I mention before, money should not matter when it come to obtain an education. What its takes to attend college is motivation and desire.

Posted by: Jose | Aug 10, 2007 11:41:14 PM

First let introduce myself. I am an undocumented student. Like many of my undocumented friends in college I struggle everyday. I work full time so I can pay high tuition in college. I also attend college fulltime. Everyday I think how can a piece of papers like SS card and green card determine our future. Many undocumented students graduated from top universities like Harbor, UCLA, and USC, but unable to practice their degree because of their immigration status. These students want to contribute to the economy of this great country.

In the Article the author mention. “How many of our youth can afford college? How many will be able to take the educational option?” Yes, the author is right. Not many undocumented students can afford college. Let me point out something that the author FAILS to mention. What at about all the undocumented students who are enroll in college? Do you think they have the money to afford college? No, they do not have the money. I am speaking for experience. Of course it takes someone with experience to answer these type of question. When it comes to attend college money should not matter at all. What matter are words motivation and the desires to obtain and education.

When I was in high school I wanted to join the military because I like the discipline and the workouts. The reason I did not join the military was because I was undocumented. If uncommented students decided to join the military let them; that’s their choice. We should respect each other decisions. People who oppose the Dream Act should realize that we all have different goals in life. Like I mention before, money should not matter when it come to obtain an education. What its takes to attend college is motivation and desire.

Posted by: Jose | Aug 10, 2007 11:42:18 PM

I pity you Jose, that your country was (and perhaps still is) so poorly managed that your family felt compelled to unlawfully enter mine and give you the hope, albeit false hope, that somehow they'd be subject to an amnesty and be offered a path to citizenship. Unfortunately, for you, this country was victimized by the 1986 amnesty, with promises that it wouldn't be done again, and there isn't a prayer for a second one in your lifetime. I suggest that you return to your homeland after graduation and work for change that will improve the lot of your fellow citizens. Barring that, I suggest that you emigrate to Canada, as they have more liberal policies.

Posted by: Horace | Aug 11, 2007 8:20:58 PM

I respect all the professors for their concern for such a sensitive issue, as well as for well-being of immigrants, however,I would like to know why is military service all of a sudden is seen as something immoral and adverse to a person?
We can all agree that WAR is ugly, but it has been part of our existence, there will always be armies and war as long as we live in this world and posses this existence.
Public & Military service is the highest social ethic, which requires subordinating a person personal ambitions for the good of the state. For many immigrant, the United States has given them hope, food, meaning, it is their home, their country. Military service for many including native citizens is saying thank you to their country, and immigrants can be grateful to the United States, nevertheless it is their choice and they should not be criticize for their choice.
Military teaches discipline, loyalty, and leadership something our youth today lacks. It is not about where you are from, what color or race you are, it is about believing in principles that define a human being. And being in the military(notwithstanding the "corrupt administration" to advance their personal agenda)allows for many to fight for these principles for future generations.

Posted by: Publius | Aug 14, 2007 9:44:08 AM

I respect all the professors for their concern for such a sensitive issue, as well as for well-being of immigrants, however,I would like to know why is military service all of a sudden is seen as something immoral and adverse to a person?
We can all agree that WAR is ugly, but it has been part of our existence, there will always be armies and war as long as we live in this world and posses this existence.
Public & Military service is the highest social ethic, which requires subordinating a person personal ambitions for the good of the state. For many immigrant, the United States has given them hope, food, meaning, it is their home, their country. Military service for many including native citizens is saying thank you to their country, and immigrants can be grateful to the United States, nevertheless it is their choice and they should not be criticize for their choice.
Military teaches discipline, loyalty, and leadership something our youth today lacks. It is not about where you are from, what color or race you are, it is about believing in principles that define a human being. And being in the military(notwithstanding the "corrupt administration" to advance their personal agenda)allows for many to fight for these principles for future generations.

Posted by: Publius | Aug 14, 2007 9:45:10 AM

Narine obviously is a true American at heart. Willing to serve and protect the country he wants to be part of , that is the true American attitude. He wants to be legal, he wants to be educated and he wants to serve his country. What more could any other American ask for. A free, legal America is what our boys go to war to protect. Thank you Narine!

Posted by: laura | Aug 16, 2007 6:52:14 PM

Narine obviously is a true American at heart. Willing to serve and protect the country he wants to be part of , that is the true American attitude. He wants to be legal, he wants to be educated and he wants to serve his country. What more could any other American ask for. A free, legal America is what our boys go to war to protect. Thank you Narine!

Posted by: laura | Aug 16, 2007 6:54:07 PM

ILL BECOME A MARINE IF THE DREAM ACT PASSES!! I CAME TO THE U.S WHEN I WAS 12 , I GRADUATED FROM HIGH SCHOOL. IM JUST WAITING!!!!!

Posted by: LUIS GARCIA | Aug 27, 2007 12:30:11 PM

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