Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Death of the DREAM - and how to breathe life back into it!

Last night Sen. Reid filed a new version of the DREAM Act under Rule XIV procedures (S.3992 Development Relief Education for Alien Minors).  It has at least 16 major changes from previous versions of the Act 15 of them toxic.

The original DREAM much like the Bay-Area Graffitti artist by the same name is dead. These changes were made as a last ditch effort to win Republican support to pass a bill in the Lame Duck. It is important to remember that Democrats never fought for this as a stand alone bill when they counted on super majorities and had much more political capital in DC.

For some this bill is still worth fighting for, for others it is too little to late with too many military strings and not enough viable alternatives to gaining legal status.  Regardless of where you stand, one thing is clear, this is not the same Bill that inspired a 10 year movement on college campuses.  It is not the same bill that immigrants rights orgs and activists held their nose and supported when CIR lost it's last chance.  It is the new and degraded Republican DREAM Act and here are the major changes:

1. Creates conditional nonimmigrant status for 10 years, followed by 3 years of LPR status (Lawful Permanent Resident Aka Green Card Holder) prior to application for naturalization. (Original bill 2001 was 3 years, in 2003 it became 6 years of waiting and now a full Decade)

2. Eliminates repeal of in-state tuition ban. (In-state tuition can be ten times cheaper than out of state, this is probably the biggest barrier to college access for undocumented youth and the DREAM Act no longer addresses it)

3. Broadens the definition of institution of higher learning to include vocational institutions (One of the few positive changes unfortunately only impacting a very small slice of potential DREAMers)

4. Must show good moral character since time of entry into the country (rather than date of enactment as in previous versions, this will make less undocumented youth eligible)

5. Creates more grounds of inadmissibility, deportability, and other grounds for exclusion. (This again limits number of eligible undocumented youth)

  • 1. Ineligible for engaging in voter fraud, unlawfully voting, marriage fraud, public health risk, likely to become a public charge, student visa abuse, polygamy, draft evasion, persecution of others.
  • 2. Ineligible for one felony or three misdemeanor convictions

6. Lower age cap from 34 to 29.

7. Requires submission of: biometric and biographic data, a background check, a medical examination (big brother facilitating possible deportations in the future)

8. Expands required disclosures and creates exceptions to confidentiality requirement for criminal, homeland security, or national security purposes. (Big Brother again prepping for future deportations)

9. Application deadline for conditional nonimmigrant status– alien must apply for conditional status within one year after obtaining high school degree or GED, admittance to institution of higher education, or date of enactment.  (Will create more ways to be denied)

10. Requires selective service registration. (continues the militarization of the DREAM Act and migrant youth)

11. Requires alien to demonstrate prima facie eligibility to receive stay of removal while application pending. (More hoops to jump through)

12. Burden of proof – requires alien to demonstrate eligibility by a preponderance of the evidence. (And More Hoops)

13. Adjustment to LPR status (more ways to delay and deny naturalization and the franchise)

  • 1. Must show good moral character during the 10 years in conditional status (longer period in which to catch 3 misdemenours = more low-income migrant youth excluded)
  • 2. Cannot have been absent from the US for a total of more than 365 days during the conditional status 
  • 3. Application deadline – must file for adjustment of status during the period beginning 1 year before and ending on either the date that is 10 years after the date of the granting of conditional nonimmigrant status or any other expiration date of the conditional status. 

14. Requires alien to pay back taxes before conditional status removed. (Creates cost barriers for some)

15. No Expedited Processing of Applications section, as included in earlier version. (Delays process more room for reasons to deny)

16. Eligibility for Health Care:

  • While in conditional nonimmigrant status, ineligible for subsidies under the Exchange. (migrant youth can't get health care another reminder of second class status in this society)

If the DREAM Act were Graffiti you could say Washington just "went over our piece" 15 times.  No higher form of disrespect exists. The DREAM for many is DEAD.  But much like the Graff Artist Mike "DREAM" Francisco who is more alive in the BAY-Area and beyond today than when he walked these streets and tagged these walls, we too can breathe life back into the real DREAM Act by honoring it, by screaming it's true name to those in power who don't want to hear it anymore than they want to see urban art.

One positive change to drastically transform and breathe life back into this dying legislation is to bring back the community service path to papers. This would create an accessible path to legal status for the overwhelming majority of undocumented youth.

If we are giving away 15 bargaining chips I think we should be demanding at least one from the other side?

Now is not the time to light candles and morn. It is the time to tag the walls of congress with our truths.
Grabb your cell phone and your spray can and hit up congress:


Mike "DREAM" Francisco Rest In Power!


Andus said...

Say it loud / say it clear!! Thank you Pablo.

Anonymous said...

how much more inhumane can the US be towards people, why cover it up with the regulations that sound better than what they really are... give those who didn't have the choice who have been here and done thier very best to live the American way.

Anonymous said...

Well to me the changes arent entirely bad. The one that doesnt make sense is the 10 year one.

This is such a touchy subject for democrats/republicans/everyone.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Pablo for your energy on this important topic of the Dream Act. You are correct in saying that this is a more inhumane version of the Dream Act.
It is. However, the essence of the inhumanity of the Dream Act, the millitary component remains.
The Dream Act would send our undocumented youth off to kill and die in immoral wars abroad directed at other youth in other countries. This is the essense and the evil in both past and present Dream Acts.
We cannot "hold our noses" when confronted by this concept. In order to continue their wars, US foreign policy requires soldiers and if a draft were to be re-activated, there would be great opposition. As long as the soldiers are undocumented, immigrant, poor, of color, in rural areas, US society ignores the war.
the US as the military has said, needs the Dream Act it needs fresh recruits. We cannot allow our youth to be the cannon fodder.
this is the main reason to oppose the Dream Act as drafted. Best wishes.

MATT said...

Where are you getting this information from?

Anonymous said...

regardless of the changes in the dreamact... We must keep pushing forward and keep persuading until we get results... the dream act is still alive...

Anonymous said...

It is a breakthrough in the enforcement only approach in effect since 1995 and increasing, yes we should seek amendments for people friendly due process, but this would add more democracy for the immigrant community. We also have to up the efforts against the militarism, imperialist foreign policy, priortize human needs. Counter recruitment is about alternartives so we will have to up the efforts for more legalization with more rights!

pablop said...

@ Matt you can look up the new version of the DREAM S.3992 online @ this point in several places and see these changes for your self. A few orgs have done analysis most of them have tried to spin the changes one way or another. Pro DREAM Act as is folks try to minimize the changes and anti-immigrant types ofcorse wont be happy until any bill that would legalize anybody is dead so they spin the changes as even more mild to stand against it. I felt there was need for honesty. The really bad news is that republicans plan even more toxic amendments like border enforcement in the coming days. Here you will get real talk about those. Stay tuned.

Anonymous said...

It is so sad to see everyone attempting to give the littlest possible to children that came to this country following their parents with no choice of their own! Once again they are being treated like second class citizens. This is an outrage, however there is little they can do since undocumented students are at the mercy of Washington.
I agree with the comment about the military aspect of the dream act. They would be content with using them as cannon fodder since they don't seem to care much about them anyway. Thanks for posting the article. Best of luck.

Anonymous said...

I understand your frustration in the newly watered down Dream Act. However, I think that all those who would benefit from it should just be grateful. This would not pass without Republican support, and God has touched their hearts--evidenced by the fact that they are now warming up to it. Although I personally believe that the children of illegal immigrants deserve a better pathway to citizenship, this is the reality for now. Anything and everything in the Dream Act is better than what most undocumented students are facing. Please remember that in January, a conservative regime will take power--people completely against any kind of immigration reform that does not include mass deportations--and the Dream Act will not likely pass then. If their idea of helping young undocumented students is giving them a 10 year conditional nonimmigrant status--that's fine. It's much much better than what we have now. I know it sucks. Its very disappointing, especially since most of us believed that the previous versions of the Act would be passed, but this is what we have for now. I can't stress enough that the attitude of the undocumented should be grateful. Be grateful to God that you weren't numbered among the 400,000 people who've been deported recently. I'd also like to stress the point that illegal immigrants have no rights in this country...whether you came here illegally, or overstayed your visa, or whatever. You can't now demand the rights of natural born citizens or people who are legal immigrants. This is the best way. God has answered the prayer of millions through this act; let us now be grateful to him and work to become great Americans.

Anonymous said...

Its not really fair to say that due to the clause in this new version of the act that requires applicants to complete the selective service registration, the government will send off the people to the war to die. The fact that you have to register should only be a testament to the fact that you're getting treated like Americans. Every citizen and legal immigrant in this country has to register when they want to go to college and apply for loans and scholarships. Since the entirety of the Dream Act is about college education which includes loans and scholarships, why are you complaining? This is the attitude that is pissing off people who are against amnesty and comprehensive immigration reform. Illegals have no're being given a chance to achieve citizenship that's a little harder than what you hoped for...sorry. That's life. I am for the Dream Act, but this sense of entitlement to things that does not belong to you needs to end now.

pablop said...

"This sense of entitlement to things that does nto belong to you" Wow.
It always amazes me what people will say online that they would never say in person.
Anyhow to get to the substance of your concern:
When citizens don't sign up for the selective service at worst they loose financial aid for college, they don't get deported to countries they have never known. The reason i commented negatively on the addition to the selective service requirement to the DREAM Act is that it creates consequences for undocumented youth who reject militarism that are much more severe than the consequences that their documented classmates face for the same action. This is fundamentally unfair and unless you believe that undocumented youth deserve to be treated as second class people and are not entitled to human rights then you will have to agree.

Anonymous said...


I wasn't trying to offend you or anyone else by saying what I said. I am for the Dream act. I don't believe that undocumented youth deserved to be treated as second class people. I have a lot of friends who are classified as such, and I am more than sympathetic to their plight.


But there's a fundamental difference between human rights and the rights of a citizen or a legal resident of a country. Everybody who wants to get any kind of financial aid, in the U.S., has to register for the selective service. You're right in deducing that if an American or a green card holder refuses to register, that they'll just lose financial aid. The reason why that's all that'll happen to them is because they're LEGAL RESIDENTS. I can't stress that point enough.

If they tell an undocumented student to register in order to get financial aid, why not just do it? The reason that the consequences are more severe than their documented classmates is because their documented classmates are just that, documented. A.K.A., legal. Plain and simple. Would you prefer that undocumented students not have to register, while documented students do? That doesn't seem fair.

With that being said, I'd like to apologize for the "entitlement" statement that I made. Right after I wrote it, I thought that it was the wrong choice of words, and I guess I should never have done so. I am very close to someone who would be very affected by the Dream Act, and I desperately want it to pass for her sake and all the people in this country who need this.

pablop said...

When citizenship as a concept and laws attached to it endanger human rights then those laws and concepts are corrupt and should be challenged. Citizenship has historically been the excuse for denying rights to various groups; African Slaves, African Americans, Native Americans, Women… We can keep fighting for inclusion in the term and the legal system that codifies it, or we can start asking ourselves if their is a need for such a concept. Why? What purpose other than denying rights and protecting privilege and power imbalances does it serve?
Perhaps you are not ready to challenge the concept of citizenship, I realize most folks aren't but I try to start those conversations wherever possible.

Amanda said...

Pablo, I've read this post twice - it is brilliant and hopeful - and I've shared it with our folks at ROP. Thank you for all you do.