This is a very insightful critical analysis from Ms. Andrea Zamudio regarding the Dream Act and a very dubious provision within it—-the military provision. This provision is one that aims to refuel America’s Imperialist Military Machine, all the while using Latinos to engage in war acts against other brown and black nations. This provision needs to be taken out of the so-called Dream Act, and Latino activist groups need to wake up, see it for what it is, and fight for Immigration Reform that does not potentially send droves of Latinos to their death to fight for a country that used that same military to destabilize much of Latin America!

Questioning the Dream Act: A Latina Speaks Out

By: Andrea Zamudio

In a time of xenophobic explosions occurring on a number of fronts in our community it is essential that we defend and stand for one of the critical elements that has been the catalyst for substantial change throughout history, culturally relevant education. Unfortunately, the attacks on ethnic studies are nothing new. Since the inception of this nation one key element that has been deliberately stripped from both indigenous and African people has been the ability/right to education and to preserve one’s cultural history. If the invading Europeans truly did believe that natives and Africans were savages incapable of learning then why did they feel the need to create laws that prevented enslaved Africans from learning to read or laws that forced natives to attend “Indian Schools” where they were indoctrinated with a history told from the perspective of Europeans? Both were systematic means to prevent any form of resistance.

Unfortunately, these times of hegemonic imposition are not of the past. Among many others, the enactment of the Arizona bill banning ethnic studies, HB2281, demonstrates a continuing attack on empowering communities of color through knowledge of self and of their culture. The law bans any ethnic studies course that “promotes the overthrow of the U.S. government, promotes resentment of a particular race or class of people, are designed primarily for students of a particular ethnic group or advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals”. However, one cannot avoid noticing that in no way is this law being applied equally. White culture is also an ethnicity, but since it has forcibly become the norm in this country it is not othered as “ethnic”. Meanwhile, history told from a Eurocentric perspective is standardized and goes unquestioned as to whether it is biased.

Without the opportunity to have a more profound and equal understanding of historical facts and events Latinos will continue to have no historical context about our struggles, and thus what they rightfully should demand from this government. From requiring accurate, culturally relevant education, to a return to the original version of the federal DREAM Act, to requiring that the U.S. ends its militarization of sovereign Latin American countries. Instead, the endemic belief that the more we assimilate and compromise will continue to prevail and true freedom for our families here and back home will never materialize.

The mobilization of tens of thousands of young Latinos for the DREAM Act shows the potential, power, courage, and skill that we have in our community. But this movement has also revealed telling notions of the state of our cultural awareness and knowledge of our history. Throughout the development of the DREAM movement I have seen how activists and Latino organizations have opted to take on a patriotic stance as to demonstrate that they have assimilated and will do anything for this country, even to give their lives for corporate interests at the hands of the military.

The irony of the almost unquestioning support for the DREAM act without any regard to how the military provision may militarize Latinos into low-ranking, life threatening positions is that this same military is, in large part, the reason for why we are here as immigrants to begin with. From the Monroe Doctrine to Manifest Destiny the U.S. has used these ideologies to justify intervention after intervention. More telling is the establishment of, the School of the Americas, a military school on Latin American soil designed specifically to train right-wing military personnel to carry out infiltration tactics, torture, and even mass executions against their own people as a means to secure that U.S. companies will have the opportunity to exploit Latin American resources and people’s labor.

From organizing a military coup to murder democratically elected Chilean President Salvador Allende in 1973 to providing the Contras in Nicaragua with weapons—to financing the rise of Trujillo in the Dominican Republic; there are no moral limits to the sinister acts of the U.S. military. The same underlying themes that used to invade our homelands (and still do covertly) can be seen in the justification for the involvement in the current wars in the Middle East. Can we as a community, that has already endured such brutal oppression justify participating in such acts against other people of color ? Can we really further sign up our youth to fight in the same military that was responsible for displacing countless Latino youth and their families?

Until the time when our history is equally interjected into the “mainstream” history of this country we must seek ways to create spaces to educate one another on our history that has been purposefully neglected. Only this will allow us to develop the necessary amount of cultural pride, geopolitical understanding and respect for our ancestors that we need to demand what we deserve. The militarization of our youth in the U.S. as well as of our people in Latin America is not justified—and in no way should we settle for anything that permits this. If the numbers of young Latinos that have organized for the DREAM act would demand a return to the original volunteer provision with the condition that if this was not changed they would retract their votes from the Democratic Party (as should be done regardless,—-I suspect that our demands would be taken more seriously. After all; interceding in politicians’ money and power is the only way change will truly occur!

Andrea Zamudio