MAKE THE FEDERAL DREAM ACT &

THE CALIFORNIA DREAM ACT A REALITY

IN OCTOBER 2010:

 

PASS THE FEDERAL DREAM ACT NOW!

GOV. SCHWARZENEGGER - DO NOT VETO

OUR DREAM THIS YEAR!

STATEWIDE DAY OF ACTION

MONDAY,  SEPTEMBER 27th

Boycott, March, Rally in your city and campus

MAKE CALIFORNIA THE ANTI-ARIZONA
 Defend Public Education
!

Stop the Re-segregation of Higher Education • End Discriminatory Admissions and Financial Aid Policies—Give California’s Majority Minority Students Equal Access to Higher Education • Public Education is a Right, not a “Race”  •  Latina/o, Black, Asian, Arab, Native American, and White, Immigrants With and Without Papers—We Are All Californians

Weekly Organizers’ Meetings

Northern California: Sundays at 3:00pm, UC-Berkeley, Barrows Hall Rm. 81

Southern California: Every Sunday, 3:00pm, at USC Campus, Taper Hall

(Call 323-474-8222 for more info)

BAMN National Conference:

Friday-Sunday, November 12-14, 2010 at UC-Berkeley

The Federal Dream Act is now on course for a vote by Congress before the November, 2010 elections. If Congress passes the Dream Act, President Obama has pledged to sign it. The Federal Dream Act would offer countless undocumented U.S. residents a pathway to citizenship. At the same time, the California Dream Act, which would give undocumented California high school students access to state funded college and university financial aid programs, is sitting on Governor Schwarzenegger’s desk awaiting his signature. If Governor Schwarzenegger does not veto the California Dream Act on or before September 30, 2010, it will become law. Tens of thousands of undocumented California high school students and young adults are poised to finally fulfill their lifelong dreams to go to college, get a degree and then become U.S. citizens. Neither the Federal Dream Act nor the California Dream Act will become law without mass mobilizations.  If our young but powerful student-led immigrant rights/civil rights movement acts now, we can secure these historic victories for immigrant rights and public education. Time is of the essence.

The California Dream Act—two complementary bills, AB 1460 and AB 1413—are sitting on Governor Schwarzenegger’s desk right now. AB 1460 and AB 1413 would give undocumented students who attended school in California and received a diploma from a California high school, technical/vocational school or adult education program the same right as any other California student to apply for and receive financial aid from the state of California. We have between now and September 30, 2010 to convince the Governor NOT TO VETO these two bills. If Governor Schwarzenegger either signs the bills into law or takes no action on the bills, they will become law on October 1.

The Federal Dream Act would provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented U.S. residents who meet all the of the following criteria: 1) came to the United States before their sixteenth birthday; 2) have a high school diploma or GED; 3) have lived in the US for at least five years continuously; 4) have attended college for two years or have served two years in the military; 5) are of “good moral character”; and 6) are under thirty-five years old. The Federal Dream Act would also make it easier for undocumented students to gain eligibility for government financial aid programs and access to student loans. Together, the two Dream Acts would open up vast new possibilities for undocumented students to become teachers, doctors, engineers, lawyers or whatever they choose to be. Passage of either or both bills would also open the way to ending the legalized second class, Jim Crow status assigned to undocumented people. 

To Win, We Must Organize Mass Direct Actions—Walkouts, Sit-Ins, Marches, Boycotts, and Strikes. OUR TIME IS NOW and WE CANNOT WAIT

There are several state and national organizations which support one, but not both, of the two Dream Acts. Immigrant rights organizations that support the California Dream Act but oppose the Federal Dream Act see the Federal Dream Act as largely a way for the government to recruit a much larger number of undocumented youth to fight and die in Iraq, Afghanistan or some other senseless imperialist war. It is true that the moment the Federal Dream Act goes into law, military recruiters will intensively target undocumented students and these students may feel pressured to join in order to improve their lives and the lives of their families. But there are already many undocumented youth in the military. Military recruiters are already trolling the halls of predominantly poor, Latino/a and black schools and schools which have large numbers of undocumented students, saying that joining the military is the best job these students can attain – especially those without papers.  The best way to protect our communities from this onslaught is to raise the profile of the California Dream Act and get it through now.

Winning the California Dream Act and opening up college financial aid programs so that undocumented youth have an alternative to the military is the key to defeating the recruiters. If we have students, teachers and parents armed with the knowledge that attending college is a real and affordable alternative pathway to citizenship, we can strengthen the resolve of everyone in our schools and in our communities to throw the recruiters out. If we win the California Dream Act this year, it will be much easier to win similar provisions in other states. However, even if we do not win the California Dream Act, winning the Federal Dream Act will still be a huge gain, even for those poor and working class youth who will enter the military to get papers.

Undocumented soldiers and LGBT soldiers are now the most vulnerable soldiers within their units. Undocumented soldiers, who now feel compelled to stay in the military for long stretches, will be able to get out quickly because they will have the papers they need to attain a good job elsewhere. Winning the Dream Act will make it possible for soldiers who are already leaders of the movement to reach those not yet a part of the movement and get struggles going to defeat the new Jim Crow within the military. The racist and anti-gay military policies that force poor and working class undocumented, Latina/o, black and gay soldiers to accept frontline combat duty despite recruiters’ promises of job training or a different assignment will be much easier to oppose once the Dream Act is in place. At non-union worksites, undocumented workers carry out actions all the time to give the workers more power and control and to give the boss less power and control.  The same process occurs with greater intensity every day in the military. Combat soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan and other places are in constant negotiations with their officers. Winning the Dream Act would increase the confidence and power of the most disenfranchised soldiers to take action to save their lives and sanity and would directly affect what the US military does on the ground. Finally, because the Dream Act will provide undocumented soldiers with a way to get equal access to veteran’s benefits, the horrible practice of undocumented soldiers feeling compelled to be recklessly brave or even to die just to get their families some basic benefits and rights will end.

Other organizations and individuals who are campaigning for passage of the Federal Dream Act as a way to generate more Latina/o votes for the Democrats oppose campaigning to get Republican Governor Schwarzenegger to sign the California Dream Act. They argue that we do not need both pieces of legislation and/or that we should just focus on one Dream Act at a time and, as Dr. King warns against below, “take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.” In their more candid and honest moments, some argue that if Governor Schwarzenegger signs the California bills, some Democrats will lose their will to get the Federal Dream Act through Congress because it will not give the Democrats the boost in Latina/o votes that their support for the Dream Act is predicated on. 

If we fight to win both Dream Acts through mass mobilizations of our independent, integrated, new civil rights/immigrant rights movement we are certain to win both. Mass mobilizations and putting some fear into all the politicians, rather than lobbying, begging or pledging to exclusively using passive electoralism as our only tactic, is the key to winning. The aims of our movement are broad and basic. We are fighting for a range of demands, all of which immediately affect our lives, but tend to be regarded as separate and discrete issues. Among other things, we are fighting to win full citizenship rights and equality for all undocumented people living in America, to end the raids and deportations and the inability of families to cross over borders to spend a holiday or a wedding with their loved ones. We are fighting to defend public education and to stop the re-segregation of higher education through restoring affirmative action programs. We are fighting to end every stultifying vestige of the new Jim Crow. We are fighting for all young people, and especially young, LGBT people to be ourselves. We are fighting to put an end to racist wars abroad, and to establish sane, anti-racist, environmental policies so that we can prevent more massive human and ecological disasters in majority black and Latina/o communities within the U.S., as well as in African, Central and Latin American nations. We are fighting to give power to the oppressed so that humanity can live, grow and become so much more than it is now. Teaching our young movement how to fight and win now to secure both Dream Acts will take us a step closer to being able to fight and win the vision of the future we want and can win. 

Send a Message to the Bigots: California Is the Anti-Arizona

Securing the California Dream Act now, especially in light of all the right-wing legal efforts to expand the new Jim Crow, would be a tremendous gain for the Latina/o, immigrant and other oppressed communities. Somebody needs to defeat and silence the anti-immigrant bigots. They do not speak for the majority, and we can prove this by standing up and making this fight in California. We can show that the Latina/o, immigrant and oppressed communities have the will and the power to move this nation in the opposite direction. We can make California the much-needed antidote to the poison that is Arizona.

Make September 27 our First National Day of Action to Win the Two Dream Acts

We have very little time to mobilize our powerful new immigrant rights, civil rights, and student movements to win. The first and biggest obstacle we need to overcome is the press blackout. Very few people know that the California Dream Act is so close to becoming law. We must use every means we have: Facebook and social networking, announcements at church and school, and priming friendly media sources: our first task is to get the word out.

Beyond that, we just need to organize mass, independent actions to win!

For the last several years, Governor Schwarzenegger has waited until the very last moment to veto legislation before him pertaining to immigrant rights, including past versions of the California Dream Act. The Federal Dream Act should be on the floor of the U.S. Senate for debate by Friday, September 24. It must be voted on before the politicians return home in mid-October to campaign for office. BAMN and other organizations are organizing mass rallies and marches in Los Angeles and Berkeley/Oakland for Monday, September 27. We have chosen this date because many California universities do not begin holding classes until September 23. Students in other states should begin acting immediately. We need students all across California and in other states to organize their own actions on Monday, September 27. If we can get things started that Monday and continue taking action during the subsequent days, including mass actions in Sacramento or at the Governor’s offices across the state, we have an excellent chance of winning both Dream Acts. We should try to make September 27 a national Day of Action.

We Can Make October 2nd and October 7th Much Stronger Days of Action to Defend Public Education by Featuring our Demand for the Passage of the Dream Act

A national coalition of organizations (see defendeducation.org) has already included passage of the Dream Act as a demand for our united youth contingent marching together at the One Nation rally in Washington on October 2nd. If the Dream Act has not passed by October 7th, its passage should be a demand of the actions planned for that day to defend public education. If we begin this school year fighting to win the Dream Act, every action we take to defend public education and union rights and to win new public sector jobs, etc., will be stronger.

Our New Movement Must Fill the Vacuum of Leadership Created by Both Political Parties

In an election year, students, youth and anyone looking to secure the Dream Act or change the direction of society will be urged by political pundits, professors, principals, preachers – and, most annoying of all — cynical sell-out ex-”movement” activist/critics of the two parties, to pour all their energy into voter registration efforts and the November election campaign. We will be urged this year, as in the past, to accept the view that our political power is limited to casting a vote for the lesser of two evils.  There is no limit to the cynicism of the politicians. The only way we win is to stay the course, keep our eyes on the prize, tell the truth, build the independent power of our movement and raise Cain. 

America desperately needs and wants a new leadership. Two years ago the majority of the American people put aside their racism, fears and pessimism and elected America’s first black President. Many of those voters now feel betrayed, angry, deceived and demoralized. They are searching for a way forward, for a better and different kind of leadership. The student movement can help fill the huge vacuum of leadership that exists. If we build on and continue to embrace debate and democratic decision making, cease to counter-pose the fights for civil rights and immigrant rights to the fights for affordable high quality public education or union rights, through our actions we can give America the leadership it needs and is desperately looking for. 

Ignore All the Bad Advice: Let Dr. Martin Luther King Be Your Mentor, Embrace Open Conflict and Social Upheaval, and Always Speak To and For the Oppressed 

No political leader in the twentieth century faced more opposition to his fight for equality and justice than Dr. Martin Luther King. Repeatedly urged by his family, friends, supposed allies and enemies to give up organizing direct action, mass independent mobilizations, and the building of a powerful civil rights movement, Dr. King summed up his attitude to all the naysayers in his most famous, often misrepresented “I Have A Dream” speech. Dr. King led the fight against the old Jim Crow when few others in his generation were prepared to stand up. He was familiar with all the difficulties of being a voice for and of the oppressed. Dr. King battled depression, self-doubt, loneliness and abuse his whole life. At the same time, almost all his greatest speeches and most memorable expressions of joy and rapture occurred when he was marching with others for freedom and dignity for all.

Dr. King was the last speaker to address the 1963 March on Washington, even though the March was the direct outgrowth of the successful campaign Dr. King led to break the back of Jim Crow in Birmingham, Alabama in the spring of 1963. The older establishment civil rights leaders feared Dr. King’s militancy, and most disapproved of his direct action tactics. They hoped that by having him speak last, he would have less of an impact on the crowd and that his speech would be featured less prominently in coverage of the event. Boy, were they wrong.

 In the days after Dr. King’s victory in Birmingham, black communities all across the south stood up and fought for their freedom. Some of the local struggles were completely pacifist in character. Others were more like the struggle Dr. King led in Birmingham. These struggles combined both the tactics of non-violent civil disobedience advocated by Dr. King, and the tactics of direct self-defense favored by the vast majority of Birmingham’s teen-agers who were in an alliance with Dr. King. Beginning in Birmingham and continuing through Watts in 1965, Detroit and Newark in 1967 and the other the urban uprisings that occurred before his death, Dr. King always defended the youth who chose to answer the police brutality directed against them or their communities by hurling bottles or rocks at the police. Dr. King urged all those who decried the anger of the youth to direct their energies at ending the continuous violence of authorities against our communities and the institutional racism that makes violence against the oppressed a daily occurrence. 

Leading the new movement is the best way Latina/o and black students can fight off depression, alienation, and the crippling loneliness and despair that paralyze too many of us too much of the time. The greatest obstacles we face as leaders is overcoming the untrue, but often repeated, view that for us to win we must find a way to make our cause appealing to white people. Like Dr. King, we must overcome our fears and doubts and always speak to and for the Latina/o, black, immigrant, and other oppressed communities. When every mainstream force is telling us that the rich and powerful are the only force that can determine humankind’s destiny, when we are constantly sent the message that we must suppress our anger and indignation and find a way to “persuade” them to recognize our worth and stop denying us the basics we need to survive, reading Dr. King can remind us that the exact opposite of what we are being told is actually what is needed. If we can just get ourselves to tell the truth about racism and stop fearing being ourselves-or even just support others who have the courage to take these actions-we can, like Dr. King, build a powerful mass civil rights movement and win.

Returning to the campuses this September after a summer with our families, many of us feel the pressure to submit to “the luxury of cooling off” or to become intoxicated by “the drug of gradualism” that Dr. King refers to in the passage below. If we do not bury our true feelings, our anger, our indignation, or the great joy and humanity we feel when we are standing together and fighting, then we will be able to embrace “the urgency of now”.

In the last part of this quote Dr. King refers to the media’s characterization of the summer of 1963 as “the sweltering summer” and he says there will be more such summers unless the oppressed are granted justice. Every year after 1963, the media would focus the question of whether the summer that was just beginning would be another “long hot summer”. 2009-2010 was our new student movement’s first “hot fall” and “hotter spring”. We need this year and every year hereafter to be red hot school years until we have won justice and freedom and completed the work Dr. King began for us.

BAMN is a completely integrated organization of today’s young Martin Luther Kings. We know that many young leaders of our movement to end the new Jim Crow yearn to breathe free and cannot stand the hypocrisy and dehumanizing effects of our society. We know these young leaders will hear in Dr. King’s words the truth and spirit of his uncompromising dignity and defiant anger and know that we too can stand up and win. We invite all of you who have not yet done so to join BAMN.

A Passage from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “I Have a Dream” speech at the August 28, 1963 March on Washington:

“It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note [the Constitutional guarantee of inalienable rights and the pursuit of happiness for all who live on American soil] insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

“It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.”