I took the train to my Mom’s house last night, hoping to help her with some of the chores, but ran out of funds. I jetted to my local bank, where a security guard sat there in a thick coat and an orange vest, calling a family member who obviously relayed some family gossip to him. He replied,
“… well, I wouldn’t be here doing all these jobs, then. I have to work these jobs in order to maintain my life and my family’s life. And I know whatever happens, I know God has my back. God has my back, and I know because I can tell.”
It’s those words that inspire my thoughts on the ideas behind immigration policy in this country, in light of the recent Congressional failure to pass the DREAM Act, a piece of legislation that would have afforded tons of undocumented children the opportunity to live out our conjured ideas of The American Dream. The idea that someone born in this country and hadn’t the slightest that their parents did not obtain citizenship has to EARN their status through some form of military service or four-year college vexes me, but historically these sorts of bills are the gateway towards true immigration reform. Even with the promise of people coming into this country willing to dedicate their lives to the intellectual and military goals of this country, conservatives and pseudo-liberals saw fit to dismiss the bill. Thus, I can only conclude that there’s at least a latent form of racism towards the faces of this immigration movement.
They can cook up your favorite soup or prepare your sushi, but their children can’t sit in the same seats that your children can in school. They can make the parts of your favorite electronics and slice up your cured meats, but they can’t serve next to your brethren in war. They can build the penthouse in that trendy neighborhood you’re about to move into and clean up the chambers of the Congress you’ve been selected / elected to serve in for the next few years of your life, but they can’t have the same opportunity for uplift in their community as in your community. Because their intellect is different than yours; it’s more … foreign.
What hurt the most about the discussion around the DREAM Act is that this is as much an education bill as it is an immigration bill, and the implications for our country’s classroom ring loudly from coast to coast. Unfortunately, some of my fellow prominent educators in the social media sphere paid no mind to the DREAM Act Vote, or simply decided to say nothing about it, anyways. Either way, they get to continue parading about the ideas of more benign topics, like ed-tech. It’s almost like the ideas of race and poverty themselves: instead of confronting them head-on, people would rather look too busy working on something else instead of lending a modicum of acknowledgment and advocacy to the students in the classroom.
The arguments for not addressing culture sound eerily similar to the concept of color-blindness, too. “I treat everyone the same exact way, so I’m really just focusing on their intelligence.” When people say that, they often treat every child to the cultural normative i.e. the concept of the well-to-do White suburban Protestant male child. For those of us who understand how much more immediate the battles of culture, poverty, and race are, we understand the implications of not advocating for legislation like the DREAM Act. It’s the idea that just because we have a privilege doesn’t mean we stop there.
Simply “educating” in these times is not enough. Educating with an advocacy lean means progress.
It’s a slow crawl for immigrants in this country seeking full citizenship and the legal right to contribute to this country while maintaining human rights here, but it’s nothing we haven’t faced before. Most of us just want an opportunity in this country, and for that to be denied for any of my brethren is a disservice to all of us.
God may have their back, but the people need to have their backs, too.
Jose, who knew it was all a dream …
Update: As a man smarter than me pointed out, the DREAM Act is a piece of legislation for undocumented kids to find a pathway towards permanent residency. Children born here already have citizenship, but I was simply pointing some of the arguments used by conservatives to disavow the DREAM Act. Sorry for the mistake.