DREAM Act & Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Not Moving Forward as Part of Defense Bill

By Guest Contributor Maegan La Mala, cross-posted from VivirLatino

After an emotional buildup for many towards the 2:30 pm EST hour Tuesday, when the U.S. Senate voted, 56-43, against a motion to proceed on the National Defense Authorization Act. This shut down the possibility of the DREAM Act and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell being presented as amendments to the Defense bill. All Republican senators voted against cloture and two Democrats, Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor, both of Arkansas.

Up to the moment of the vote, I watched U.S. Senators, all white old men, talk about gays in the military. Republican Senators like John McCain danced around their homophobia by saying they didn’t want to add DADT because the military hadn’t had a chance to do polling about the impact on combat readiness if there were out lgbt folks in the armed forces. Other Republicans looked at the DREAM Act in one of two ways : a ploy by Senate Majority Harry Reid to get the Latino vote and/or a version of “amnesty” for some undocumented.

Despite my expressed concerns about the DREAM Act and it’s attachment to a military bill, it was my knowledge of the many young people fighting to legalize their status, that had me upset after the Senate vote yesterday. I can’t imagine the moment of heartbreak after so much work, struggle y corazon, after putting their freedom on the line and at times their health and well being.

Pero as with comprehensive immigration reform, and all other struggles, a vote in the legislature, a bill, a law is not what will bring about justice. It is not the end all and be all in the lives of freedom fighters. In fact, quite the opposite. It needs to be utilized , yes but as past of a larger strategy to move pa’lante.

There is a push now to have the DREAM Act presented as a stand-alone bill by Harry Reid. Whether he will do it or not, especially whether he will do it before elections in November is about what/who he fears more. Does he fear the Latino vote not turning out for him because he didn’t do all he could do? Or does he fear Republicans who will cry “amnesty” and see young brown people in pursuit of their own future as a threat?

Image courtesy of ThinkProgress