On the death of the DREAM Act

The DREAM Act died this weekend.

Ever since I saw the news on Twitter I have a felt a heaviness in my chest. A sadness, a disappointment at my lack of surprise, my resignation. These two years of the Obama Administration feel like disappointment after disappointment. The wins are barely wins, most are just compromises.

I know that this is the way our political system works and that radical politics are rarely reflected in policy. I know that.

But then there are the injustices.

There are many in our country–too many to name.

But this one hits close to home.

I’m the child of immigrants. I’m the first generation born in the United States. My parents could have been DREAMers. They both came to the US from Cuba as pre-teens.

Two weeks ago I wrote an article for Colorlines about the privileged status Cubans have been afforded in the US:

Ever since the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966, Cubans who have made it the United States have been put on an automatic path to citizenship. Cubans in the U.S. have reaped the benefits of this special status, my family included. My parents came to the U.S. with their families as pre-teens in the first wave of exiles from Cuba. Their respective families had different motivations for coming, but both were fleeing the new Castro government and its intrusion in their lives and their businesses. What for them, as for many who came over in the original wave, was meant to be a temporary visit until Castro was defeated, has become a multi-generation resettlement. I was born here, along with some other 652,000 Cuban-Americans, all of us with the advantage of parents who have been able to work and live legally since day one. It’s virtually impossible to be an undocumented Cuban in the United States.

If it wasn’t for this policy toward Cubans (fueled by Cold-War anti-communist fears) I wouldn’t be where I am today.

It’s not just that my family and Cuban community has had such access to citizenship and other immigrant groups have not.

It’s not just that the political whims of FIVE PEOPLE can close the door on the possibilities for millions.

It’s not just that our governmental policy is still motivated by hate, fear, racism and zenophobia.

It’s not just that no amount of fighting, of DREAMing, of pushing can change our intractable system.

I worked with a mother recently in my role as an abortion doula (more on that later) and she told me about her son. He’s a DREAMer. He’s a stellar student, he has big business ambitions, wants to open up hotels and restaurants. He knew about the DREAM Act and it sickens my stomach to think of him and all the other DREAMers out there who lost their chance (after ten years of pushing this damn bill) because of FIVE PEOPLE.

Where is the justice in that?

One thought on “On the death of the DREAM Act

  1. Rosa Perelmuter December 20, 2010 / 10:17 am

    I too was heartbroken by the news. It’s interesting that the failure to pass received so little attention in the news on t.v. Not sure if it was because of the focus on the other bill to do away with “don’t ask, don’t tell” (a notable accomplishment, let’s not forget that) or because of low expectations. As we all know the DREAM act had to be diluted to such an extent that perhaps this gives us a chance to regroup, re-form it, and bring it back for a vote, even if it’s with a Republican majority in Congress. This time we were 5 votes short; maybe with more time to canvass and lobby we can pass a DREAM act that has fewer roadblocks for this deserving group of Americans. Another frustrated Cuban-American naturalized citizen

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