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The Danger of the Dream Act
As support gains steam in Latino academia for The Dream Act, which allows for higher education and a pathway to citizenship, we must also concern ourselves with the danger of the military component as a pathway to citizenship -- a major concern I have. Democrats and Republicans have successfully found a way to structure this bi-partisan legislation that traps immigrants into supporting the military recruitment of their sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, cousins and friends.
They have combined a pathway to higher education and citizenship with recruiting Latino youth into a military that is being used to fight in two illegal wars based on lies in Iraq and Afghanistan (the Democratic Party is heavily involved in advocating for this legislation) . Now the Obama administration is developing plans to send U.S. troops to the U.S./Mexico border to fight the "drug war". As we all know, the best way to fight the drug war is to end poverty.
In March of 2008, the U.S. backed and armed Colombian military crossed the Ecuador/Colombian border to attack and kill "drug traffickers" . Ecuador immediately ceased diplomatic relations with Colombia and sent their military to the border to push the Colombian military back across the border. One month later Colombian troops crossed the Venezuelan/Colombia n border to attack and kill "drug traffickers" . Venezuela immediately ceased diplomatic relations with Colombia and sent two Army brigades to the border to push the Colombian military back across the border.
We must consider the long-term strategy of the U.S Pentagon: recruit spanish speaking immigrants into the U.S.military to be used in future wars of aggression against "drug trafficking" , or the Leftist/Progressive governments that have been recently democratically elected in El Salvador, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Venezuela, Chile, and others.
During the Vietnam war, U.S troops didn't understand the language or culture of the Vietnamese people. In the illegal Iraq and Afghanistan occupations, U.S. troops don't know the language or understand the culture of the Iraqi and Afghan people. In Latin America it will be different with the military recruitment of Latinos who know the language and cultures of Latin America.
Also during the Vietnam war there was a compulsory draft. After you turned 18 you got your draft notice. Today there is an all volunteer military which is a complete failure. Not enough young people are joining the military to replace the numbers leaving the military. That's why troops are being forced to return to Iraq, and now Afghanistan, for their 3rd, 4th, and even 5th tours. Not enough troops are re-enlisting, so the Pentagon has begun bribing them with bonuses up to $30,000.00. It isn't working.
Some argue if someone wants to join the military it's their "choice". But is it really a choice, or forced upon them? Today there is an ever growing "Poverty Draft". Many youth are joining the military because the U.S. economy is in free fall, education budgets are facing drastic cuts, unemployment is rising, and poverty wages aren't enough to live on. The bribery of signing bonuses and promises of "free" college benefits are the reality of the Poverty Draft.
During the Presidential campaign, Barack Obama promised to escalate the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan by 20,000 more U.S. troops. He has now revised the escalation to 30,000! As a candidate, Obama said he would consult with his "commanders on the ground" for returning troops from Iraq. As President, he has now revealed he will continue the occupation up to 2011 with 50,000 U.S. troops, he then "intends" to return the rest.
The Pentagon is spending BILLIONS of tax payer dollars to militarize our youth by marketing the military to children, teens, and young people. They develop slick video games glorifying killing as fun, and advertise on corporate TV and sports programming -- English and Spanish language. JROTC programs are in our High Schools and military recruiters visit High School campuses with carnival style game booths and chin-up bars (there are many more examples). Our youth are being brainwashed with militarism everywhere in daily life. The Pentagon is militarizing our youth for the Poverty Draft.
It never used to be this way! The Pentagon is desperate to recruit because young people don't want to die or be maimed, physically or emotionally for life, by serving in a military that is being used for wars of aggression based on lies. The Dream Act was developed to encourage Latinos to support legislation that provides educational opportunity and a pathway to citizenship for some, while sacrificing the rest to serve in a military involved in two illegal wars, and now plans being developed to deploy U.S. "security" forces to the U.S./Mexico border.
The solution begins with clearly understanding the reasoning behind combining education and military service with a pathway to citizenship. Latinos must demand that an educational pathway to citizenship must be stand-alone legislation. Latinos should never support legislation that forces us to decide opportunity for some, while sacrificing the rest. Revise or Reject the Dream Act!
As of today 4,264 U.S troops have died in Iraq, 450 (11%) are Latino. During the Vietnam war, 58,200 U.S. troops and 8 nurses, were killed in Vietnam. How many Latinos? We don't know. Why? Because Latinos were/are listed as Caucasian! On May 20, 1967, my oldest brother Joseph Ledesma, Jr., was killed in combat in Vietnam. He was only 20 years old. I was 13, and became a Gold Star Brother on that day. Joey was attending West Valley College when he got his Draft notice. On the Vietnam Memorial Wall website all U.S. troops and the 8 nurses have a page dedicated to each them. On my brothers page he is listed as Caucasian. Check out the link: http://www.thewall- usa.com (enter Joseph Ledesma, then "Start Search"). Enter your own surname to see how many Latinos with your last name died in Vietnam. For example: Garcia - 102 deaths.
My Grandparents came to the U.S. from Mexico 100 years ago. My mother's parents from Zacatecas, my father's parents from San Luis Potosi. The racism that Mexicanos have experienced for over 100 years in the U.S. is glaringly evident on that website listing our sons, grandsons, brothers, cousins, and friends as Caucasian.
Our people have crossed the border for over 100 years, and the racism continues. Immigrants are labeled as "illegals" and "aliens". Looking at the bigger picture and connecting the dots, we must conclude and advocate that immigrants from Mexico, and now throughout Latin America, come to the U.S. to escape the poverty in their home countries which is caused by government corruption on both sides of the border. One hand washing the other. Immigrants are victims of this cooperative government corruption, not criminals. They are doubly victimized by the racism experienced in the U.S. with ICE raids, forced deportations, and media name calling and scape goating.
All of this brings us back to the Dream Act. This legislation offers education for some, while requiring their enthusiastic endorsement to abandon the rest of our brothers and sisters into a military Poverty Draft. We must also consider the escalating border militarization to fight the "drug war" that could erupt throughout Latin America. We must stand together, just as we did in 2006 during the national Immigrant Rights marches across the U.S., in numbers too large to ignore. We must not accept legislation that combines education for some and a military nightmare for the rest, as Association of Raza Educators and Somos Raza (Los Angeles-San Diegio-Oxnard) have been advocating. Our Dream Shall Not Be A Nightmare! No one should have to kill, or support killing for an education or citizenship.
Gold Star Brother
San José, CA
Link to info about my brother PFC Joseph Ledesma, Jr. Killed in Action May 20, 1967 http://www.cacti35th.org/regiment/kia/kia_details.php?person_id=512&battalion=2nd