Thursday, December 23, 2010

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

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 compaƱeros 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!