Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Joint Statement about Don't Ask, Don't Tell and the DREAM Act

VOICE, LYFE and Out Boulder – A Joint Statement about Don't Ask, Don't Tell and the DREAM Act – LGBT and Immigrant Communities Continue to Stand Together
Many people in the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) and Allied community have worked tirelessly to help repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” On Saturday, the U.S. Senate approved a stand-alone bill to repeal the military’s 17-year-old ban on lesbians, gays and bisexuals serving openly in the military. The vote was 65-31.
DADT is an important and hard-earned victory and provides us reason to celebrate; however, on the same day the U.S. Senate’s failed cloture vote blocked consideration of the Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act (DREAM Act). The DREAM Act, which passed the U.S. House last week, seeks to provide undocumented young people “conditional permanent residency” if they arrived in this country before they were 16 and attend college or serve in the military. Upon graduation or completion of their enlistment, they would receive permanent legal residency with an opportunity to apply for U.S. citizenship.
We are grateful for the leadership of Colorado Senators Michael Bennet and and Mark Udall who voted for the DREAM Act and the repeal of DADT.
We also thank Rep. Jared Polis, who represents Colorado’s Second District (which includes Boulder County) for his unwavering and strong leadership in support of both the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and passage of the DREAM Act. Polis co-sponsored the DREAM Act and said in his remarks, “The DREAM Act is not only a human rights issue, it's an economic issue and it's a competitiveness issue. These young people are some of our very best Americans…I call upon the House and the Senate to immediately move to pass the DREAM Act and help make these young people proper Americans.” In his remarks about DADT, Polis said, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is the only law in the country that requires people to be dishonest or be fired if they choose to be honest.”
VOICE (Voices of Immigrant Children for Education and Equality), LYFE (Longmont Youth for Equality) and Out Boulder (Boulder County’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community center) ask LGBT people to speak out in favor of immigrant rights. We ask immigrants to speak out on behalf of LGBT rights. We ask you to continue to see the connections between the treatment of LGBTs and immigrants in federal, state, and local policies. For over 17 years the LGBT community and our allies have fought for the repeal of DADT. This change provides hope to the immigrant justice community that progress does happen and that we will see comprehensive immigration reform soon.
We ask you to recognize that some people are both immigrant and LGBT and that community-building must focus on all facets of the community. In the spirit of solidarity and social justice, it is important to acknowledge that DADT only applies to service members who are gay, lesbian or bisexual—not to transgender service members. We continue to stand with the transgender community, as well.
In a letter from the Birmingham Jail in 1962, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr wrote,
“We are bound by an inescapable garment of mutuality, whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly."
The results of December 18, 2010 further the need to acknowledge that our issues cannot be faced in isolation. It remains true that those who hate us come from similar and often intertwined ideological foundations. We will celebrate Don't Ask and Don't Tell being repealed while also considering what we can do next to work with the Dreamers. Our opponents may try to use ‘divide and conquer’ tactics to carry out their agenda, but we will not be divided. Now more than ever, we must stand together in solidarity - an injustice to one is an injustice to all.

We continue to stand with all immigrant youth

The American Friends Service Committee is saddened that the United States Senate did not improve and pass the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM Act.)

AFSC believes that creating a humane immigration system is an important human rights issue facing the United States, and will continue to advocate for overhaul of the existing system to guarantee dignity and respect for all immigrant families.

Although the DREAM Act had the support of 55 Senators in the final vote, this was not sufficient to overcome the lack of political will displayed by some of our nation’s leaders.

If you want to know how your Senators voted click here.

The final bill in the Senate prioritized military service over access to education and community service. In the months and days leading up to this vote, AFSC joined with immigrant youth in urging our senators to offer undocumented youth equal access to education and multiple paths to citizenship that would have best served the needs of U.S. society.

This vote took place in a time of increased deportations and escalation of the failed border policies, including the militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border. Reversing the current immigration policies that separate families, criminalize workers and jeopardizes the quality of life of communities continues to be an urgent human rights issue.

For over a decade, immigrant youth have been tirelessly advocating for passage of the DREAM Act, and they will not stop now. AFSC sees the DREAM act as a means to allow millions of undocumented youth the ability to continue to contribute to our society without the fear of deportation. AFSC will continue to work with local immigrants’ rights groups, nationwide immigrants’ rights organizations and legislators to include important improvements in any future legislation:

Enrollment in vocational programs in addition to formal college education,
Access to scholarships and other funding sources for financing their education,
A community service alternative, and
A conscientious objection clause for those who chose the military enrollment option.
The American Friends Service Committee encourages our supporters to strengthen the movement to guarantee the protection of human rights and to keep families together.

originally posted here: http://afsc.org/story/after-defeat-dream-act

Monday, December 27, 2010

DREAM Act fails, but we have not been defeated. La lucha sigue!

by our friends at Padres y Jovenes Unidos
On Saturday, December 18th, the U.S. Senate failed to pass cloture on the DREAM Act, effectively killing it, despite the already historical passage in the U.S. House of Representatives. We are saddened by the Senate’s conscious decision to put their careers before the lives of thousands of students and their families. We are outraged to see Senators who failed to rise above political games, turning down talented individuals ready to contribute and help save our nation’s economy. And while we are particularly disgusted with the five Democratic Senators who blocked the DREAM Act, we cannot forget the gaggle of 41 Senators who voted to kill it. You are following in the footsteps of previous legislators who would see fit to deny a certain group of people their civil and human rights for your own political gain. You truly do represent the worst of American politics and NOT what Americans value.
For nearly a decade now, Padres & Jovenes Unidos and students nationwide have been organizing to pass the DREAM Act. Our youth have held many local actions and events throughout the years and we’ve seen thousands more across the country, all calling on Congress to step up and take action. This year, we were honored to witness historical events that mirrored the Civil Rights era – hunger strikes, sit-ins, and other acts of civil disobedience. We were inspired by the courageous Dreamers who risked deportation and even put their lives on the line under the banner, “Undocumented and Unafraid!”
We thank all the parents, community members, elected officials, religious leaders and ally media outlets, artists and celebrities who stood in solidarity with the Dreamers and helped our movement get this far. We thank all the Representatives and Senators who did the right thing and voted in support of the DREAM Act, especially our Colorado U.S. Representatives and U.S. Senators for their leadership.
But most of all, we thank the youth for leading this fight. Your heart, energy and creative tactics allowed us to see a glimpse of where we must take our current movement for equality, because this fight is not just for the DREAM Act; we are fighting for dignity, respect, acknowledgement and justice.
Our message to the youth and all our allies in this fight is: We will not give up. Saturday we suffered a setback, but remember that we have been here before. And, just like then, we must get up and continue to fight back. We must be proud of what we accomplished and take advantage of how close we got this year.
Our message to the elected officials who chose to put the dreams of thousands of immigrant students on hold is the following: Next time, don’t forget that the majority of Americans support the DREAM Act and that you were elected to serve your constituents. You should know that we see right through your irrational and racist excuses, your cowardice and your hypocrisy. We know that for you this is NOT about upholding the values of one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. For you, it is the politics of fear and you wrap yourselves in the banner of false patriotism to justify your vote. Loud and proud we tell you that this is not the end. On the contrary, the fight for DREAM is stronger than ever before. That while the Dreamers are no longer afraid, you should be, because we will prevail.
To all our compañeros in the movement: let’s take a small break, spend the holidays with our loved ones, re-energize, reflect and renew our commitment to the struggle. 2011 will be no easier. This must be a year in which we hold many elected officials accountable for the promises they have yet to fulfill and the wrong choices they made that are hurting our communities. We must return refreshed and ready to build alliances with other working class and suffering sectors of our society who are our brothers and sisters in the movement for equality and justice for all!