Alberto Gonzales and the (Latino) American Dream?



WACO, Tex., Aug. 27 — Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, whose tenure has been marred by controversy and accusations of perjury before Congress, announced his resignation in Washington today, declaring that he had “lived the American dream” by being able to lead the Justice Department.

Mr. Gonzales, who had rebuffed calls for his resignation for months, submitted it to President Bush by telephone on Friday, a senior administration official said. There had been rumblings over the weekend that Mr. Gonzales’s departure was imminent, although the White House sought to quell the rumors.

Mr. Gonzales appeared cheerful and composed when he announced that he was stepping down effective Sept. 17. His very worst days on the job were “better than my father’s best days,” he said, alluding to his family’s hardscrabble past.

“Thank you, and God bless America,” Mr. Gonzales said, exiting without responding to questions.

In Waco, President Bush said he had accepted the resignation reluctantly. He praised his old friend as “a man of integrity, decency and principle” and complained of the “months of unfair treatment” that preceded the resignation.

“It’s sad,” Mr. Bush said, asserting that Mr. Gonzales’s name had been “dragged through the mud for political reasons.”

The president said the solicitor general, Paul D. Clement, would serve as acting attorney general until a permanent replacement was chosen.

Mr. Bush has not yet chosen a replacement but will not leave the position open long, the senior administration official said early this morning. Among those being mentioned as a possible successor were Michael Chertoff, the secretary of homeland security who is a former federal prosecutor, assistant attorney general and federal judge; Christopher Cox, the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission; and Larry D. Thompson, a former deputy attorney general who is now senior vice president and general counsel of PepsiCo Inc.

Mr. Bush repeatedly stood by Mr. Gonzales, an old friend and colleague from Texas, even as Mr. Gonzales faced increasing scrutiny for his leadership of the Justice Department over issues including his role in the dismissals of nine United States attorneys late last year and whether he testified truthfully about the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs.

Earlier this month, at a news conference, Mr. Bush dismissed accusations that Mr. Gonzales had stonewalled or misled a Congressional inquiry. “We’re watching a political exercise,” Mr. Bush said. “I mean, this is a man who has testified, he’s sent thousands of papers up there. There’s no proof of wrong.”

But Democrats cheered Mr. Gonzales’s departure. “Alberto Gonzales was never the right man for this job,” said Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader. “He lacked independence, he lacked judgment, and he lacked the spine to say ‘no’ to Karl Rove.”

Senator Charles E. Schumer, the New York Democrat who sits on the Judiciary Committee and has been calling for Mr. Gonzales’s resignation for months, said this morning: “It has been a long and difficult struggle, but at last the attorney general has done the right thing and stepped down. For the previous six months, the Justice Department has been virtually nonfunctional, and desperately needs new leadership.”

Senator Schumer said that “Democrats will not obstruct or impede a nominee who we are confident will put the rule of law above political considerations.”

Another Democrat on the Judiciary Committee who has been highly critical of Mr. Gonzales, Senator Russell D. Feingold of Wisconsin, said the next attorney general must be a person whose first loyalty is “to the law, not the president.”

But a Republican senator who has known Mr. Gonzales for years, Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, paid tribute to the Harvard-educated Mr. Gonzales, the first attorney general of Hispanic heritage. “He has served in difficult times and I believe is a good, honest man who has worked hard in public service all his life,” the senator said in a statement.

Mr. Gonzales’s resignation is the latest in a series of high-level departures that has reshaped the end of Mr. Bush’s second term. Mr. Rove, the political adviser who is another of Mr. Bush’s close circle of aides from Texas, stepped down two weeks ago.

The official who disclosed the resignation in advance today said that the turmoil over Mr. Gonzales had made it difficult for him to continue as attorney general. “The unfair treatment that he’s been on the receiving end of has been a distraction for the department,” the official said.

A senior administration official said today that Mr. Gonzales, who was in Washington, had called the president in Crawford, Tex., on Friday to offer his resignation. The president rebuffed the offer, but said the two should talk face to face on Sunday.

Mr. Gonzales and his wife flew to Texas, and over lunch on Sunday the president accepted the resignation with regret, the official said.

On Saturday night Mr. Gonzales was contacted by his press spokesman to ask how the department should respond to inquiries from reporters about rumors of his resignation, and he told the spokesman to deny the reports.

White House spokesmen also insisted on Sunday that they did not believe that Mr. Gonzales was planning to resign. Aides to senior members of the Senate Judiciary Committee said over the weekend that they had received no suggestion from the administration that Mr. Gonzales intended to resign.

As late as Sunday afternoon, Mr. Gonzales himself was denying through his spokesman that he was quitting. The spokesman, Brian Roehrkasse, said Sunday that he telephoned the attorney general about the reports of his imminent resignation “and he said it wasn’t true — so I don’t know what more I can say.”

Steven Lee Myers reported from Waco, Texas, and Philip Shenon reported from Washington.

Alberto Gonzales and the (Latino) American Dream?

‘Letters to a Young Teacher’

‘Letters to a Young Teacher’ by Jonathan Kozol and ‘A Class Apart’ by Alec Klein
The ideals of public education are still a long way off in this land of plenty.
By Erin Aubry Kaplan

August 26, 2007
If only it could have been one book.

Such was my wishful thinking, infused with a certain anger, as I read “Letters to a Young Teacher” and “A Class Apart,” two up-close accounts of two radically different public school experiences written by, respectively, veteran educator Jonathan Kozol and Washington Post reporter Alec Klein. Of course, I figured just by the titles and authors that I was in for much more contrast than convergence. Kozol, 70, is the unsparing social critic and fierce public-school advocate whose last work, “The Shame of the Nation,” detailed the almost intractable nature of public-school inequality in America 50 years after Brown vs. Board of Education; Klein, 40, is a journalist who in his book appears less influenced by political ideology than by the tenets of modern feature writing, which include a conscious neutrality on deeper education issues.

“Letters” uses the time-honored literary device of correspondence to steadily illuminate the long-standing concerns of the letter writer and those of Francesca, a novice first-grade teacher who toils in the tough, mostly black Roxbury area of Boston and who functions as Kozol’s younger alter ego; “Class” is much more diffuse, full of characters, situations and odd moments meant to feel like an almost random year-in-the-life look at exclusive, high-powered Stuyvesant High School in New York City — Klein’s alma mater, by the way.

A quick comparison of the two yields a predictable picture of one school beset by poverty and racial isolation and is nearly hostile to the needs of its pupils, and another that is a bright, open oasis of resources and creativity designed to exploit every bit of talent and brain power that its student body is assumed to have in abundance. That the Roxbury school is elementary and Stuyvesant (Stuy for short) is secondary doesn’t blunt the point. Wishful thinking, indeed.

And yet, there is hope — that is, there is some basis for comparison and, perhaps, fruitful commiseration between schools that are so unlike but that still share a singular responsibility for educating young people as thoroughly as possible. Both schools are part of similar systems — dealing on a daily basis with bureaucratic and political headaches such as budget cuts, inadequate staffing and the installation of forbidding security devices imposed by a central office. Both are obsessively defined by numbers and test scores.

Most important, both writers are oriented by a persistent idealism born of their experience. True, Kozol’s experience is much broader — he views things through the lens of a teacher and activist, while Klein does so mostly as a former student at one of the country’s most celebrated high schools. But faith in the potential of public schools to be great agents of change is what matters.

“Letters to a Young Teacher” could have collapsed under the weight of its own sincerity, but to Kozol’s credit, it doesn’t (although it’s hard to imagine that he didn’t prep these letters for publication, so measured are they and so witheringly analytical — often in the same paragraph). Although it sounds contrived, the “Dear Francesca” that begins each chapter (this name, Kozol tells us, is used to disguise the teacher’s identity) turns out to be an appropriately personal, old-fashioned way to hold forth on a gray topic like the endangered state of public education, especially given that Francesca’s charges are about 6 or so. Also, the conceit of a conversation between a wise elder and his young acolyte is a welcome departure from an extended activist essay that, however impassioned, can quickly sound like an echo chamber.

Kozol clearly revels in being a kid again. He visits Francesca’s class frequently and vicariously delights in the whole bumpy journey of first-time teaching (Kozol also spent his first teaching year in the Roxbury area in 1960). “Letters” allows Kozol to freely reminisce, reflect, recall his own mistakes and to connect with a new generation of students. The basic revelation here is that Kozol, the perennial bearer of bad news about segregated and underfunded schooling, is also an indefatigable idealist who is as inspired by inner-city kids as he is appalled by the conditions in which they are expected to learn. Making matters worse is the American education-industrial complex, which traffics in jargon and stresses things such as high-stakes testing as primary “accountability tools” that in Kozol’s mind are uncreative, punitive and rob black and Latino students of their humanity and sense of self-worth.

In “The Uses of Diversity,” a brief, devastating chapter, he explores our ongoing abuse of the concept of diversity — calling schools with only black and brown faces “diverse,” for instance, or teaching kids on Martin Luther King Day that non-diversity is a thing of the past — and suggests that it is one of the worst intellectual crimes of the age. Yet none of this dampens Kozol’s enthusiasm for the education game. What “Letters” does best is chart the positive tension between his lifelong indignation and the renewable joy of being in the classroom, something essential to all good teaching whether one is in Boston, Manhattan or Los Angeles.

Klein may not be the best person to tell the story of Stuyvesant, a school for the gifted and talented that is the most rarefied of several New York public high schools that have entrance exams. Admittedly, it’s hard to generate sympathy for students geared from birth for a fabulous success that most of us will never experience. But Klein doesn’t help by coming off at times as smug and self-congratulatory, and by forcing drama in many story lines that are really observations.

“A Class Apart” is not without some intrigue. There’s freakish math whiz Milo, who’s only 10 but already on a high-school track; his teacher Mr. Siwanowicz, brilliant but chronically depressed and living with his parents; slight, self-destructive Jane, who shoots heroin and pens some of the most incisive poetry her English teacher has ever read. But all this obscures the larger picture, which is that Stuy is a factory turning out super-students — that is, students who live and die by test scores, rankings, GPAs and the various rituals of college prep, preferably Ivy League. Klein’s students are likable, sweet but dull; they risk nothing. I expected more from genius.

The chapter “Open House,” a quick profile of Stuy’s demographics, bolsters Kozol’s argument that diversity has become an elastic idea that means whatever people want it to mean. According to Klein, in a city where 70% of public school students are black and Latino, Stuy has 2% black enrollment and Asians account for 55% of the student body. To Klein, these are simply facts, not a paradox. Of the three black students he follows in the book, two are apolitical and, as it happens, biracial. (Klein’s emphasis on this is bothersome — is his point that being half-white makes these students better than black? More deserving?) Nor does Klein challenge a reverence among his subjects for the American dream, a writ of individual hyper-achievement that has supplanted an ambitious but short-lived American dream of integration. Klein uses problematic words such as “quotas” when he addresses criticisms of Stuy’s lack of diversity. To Klein, having Asians, Russians and gays on campus is diversity. He is not wrong, but his vision is incomplete.

In his epilogue, Klein lauds Stuy for its solid Jeffersonian ideals. “The founding father,” he says, “believed in the ideal of making education available to every citizen as a way to ward off tyranny, but he also believed in fostering an aristocracy of talent.” Klein wants it both ways in public school, which is admirable, but what he doesn’t or refuses to realize is that aristocracy beats availability hands down. “Aristocracy” is not simply about money: Plenty of Stuy parents are of modest means. But they are repeatedly characterized as hard-working, immigrant cabdrivers and deli owners who cherish education; by implication, native blacks and poor Latinos living beyond Stuy’s multimillion-dollar facade do not.

But back to commonality. Among Kozol’s more uplifting chapters, “Teachers as Witnesses,” is an open letter to educators, reminding them that they are natural activists and agitators and that despite the education-industrial complex, they should never shy away from that role. He tells a story of how he once read Langston Hughes’ poetry to his students, to great response, and subsequently got fired because Hughes’ poetry was “out of compliance.” Kozol says teachers must always question compliance, an attitude certainly shared by the unorthodox teachers at Stuy whom Klein so affectionately describes. That kind of intellectual activism is as much the job of a teacher at a vaunted school as it is for a teacher anywhere else: Compliance can be used to maintain an unsatisfactory status quo; it can allow low expectations to masquerade as high ones. Schools like Stuy internalized this decades ago, but many others have not. Summing up the students’ grueling year and the liberation of graduation, Klein remarks: “There is only what lies ahead.” How different that sentence plays in Roxbury. U.S. education, alas, is far from being one story.

Erin Aubry Kaplan is a contributing editor to The Times’ Opinion page.

‘Letters to a Young Teacher’

The Latino Body and the National Archive(s)

Don Matias Romero. Envoy of the Republic of Mexico, 1863; three-quarter-length, standing. (College Park, Maryland, No. 111-B-1228.)

National Archives Celebrates Hispanic American Heritage Month

Washington, DC
The National Archives will celebrate Hispanic American Heritage Month with special films, programs, and lectures. These events are free and open to the public and will be held at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, which is located on the National Mall at Constitution Ave. and 7th Street, NW, and is fully accessible.

New Thinking on Lincoln’s Legacy: Hispanic Perspectives
Tuesday, September 18, at noon, William G. McGowan Theater
Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birthday is in 2009. Does his legacy have resonance within Hispanic communities? Estévan Rael-Gálvez, New Mexico State Historian; Ernesto Chávez, associate professor of history at the University of Texas at El Paso; and Jerry Thompson, Regents Professor, Social Science Department, Texas A&M International University, will unearth fresh historical perspectives on Lincoln, his era, and his legacy.

Film: The Lemon Grove Incident
Friday, September 21, at noon, William G. McGowan Theater
Based on historical events, this docudrama, which blends archival photos, dramatic reenactments, and interviews with former students, portrays the efforts of the Mexican American community in Lemon Grove, CA, to challenge local school segregation practices and racial discrimination in Depression-era America. Produced by Paul Espinosa. (1985, 58 minutes.)

Playing America’s Game: Baseball, Latinos, and the Color Line
Wednesday, September 26, at noon, Jefferson Room
Latinos have emerged as baseball’s largest minority group over the last two decades, highlighted by the pitching of Pedro Martínez and the hitting exploits of Alex Rodriguez. In Playing America’s Game: Baseball, Latinos, and the Color Line, Adrian Burgos examines the long history of Latinos in U.S. professional baseball, focusing particularly on their significant presence in the Negro Leagues.

Zoot Suit Riots
Friday, October 12 at 12 noon, William G. McGowan Theater
In August 1942 the murder of a young Mexican-American man ignited a firestorm in Los Angeles, California. In no time at all, ethnic and racial tensions that had been building up over the years boiled over. Police fanned out across the city in a dragnet that netted 600 Mexican Americans. Among those accused of murder was a young “zoot-suiter” named Hank Leyvas — the poster boy for an entire generation of rebellious Mexican kids who refused to play by the old rules. These dramatic events are chronicled in this 2001 documentary from the PBS series, American Experience. Written, produced, and directed by Joseph Tovares. (60 minutes.).
Related National Archives “Know your Records” Programs

All programs are open to the public and are free unless otherwise noted.

Hispanics in the 19th Century through Military and Census Records
Wednesday, September 26, 9:30–11:30 a.m., Jefferson Room
National Archives staff archivist Constance Potter and archives specialist John Deeben will present a workshop on Hispanics in the Southwest in the 19th century, focusing on Civil War military service, regimental, and pension records for volunteers from New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas as well as population and non-population census schedules. Reservations are required, and a fee of $20 is payable by cash or check at the door. Call 202-357-5333.

Mexican Border Crossings
Thursday, September 13, at 11 a.m., Room G-24, Research Center
National Archives staff archivist Claire Kluskens will discuss Mexican border crossing records that document the arrival of permanent and temporary immigrants to the United States at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Hispanic Volunteers in the Antebellum U.S. Army
Tuesday, September 18, at 11 a.m., Room G-24, Research Center
National Archives staff archives specialist John Deeben will discuss service records and other documentation for Hispanics who served in the U.S. Army, 1835–55. Many fought in the Second Seminole War, the Mexican War, and the Apache and Navajo wars of the 1850s. (This lecture will be repeated at the National Archives at College Park, MD, in Lecture Room B, on Thursday, September 20, at 11 a.m.)

Hispanic-Related Films from the National Archives
Friday, September 21, at 11 a.m., Room G-24, Research Center
National Archives staff present and discuss a variety of film clips illustrating Hispanic population, culture, activities, and families in the early to mid-20th century.

Documenting Community, Politics, and the Economy in Puerto Rico, 1898–1950
Tuesday, September 25, at 11 a.m., Room G-24, Research Center
National Archives branch chief Kenneth Heger will provide an overview of the records of the two Federal agencies that administered Puerto Rico—the Bureau of Insular Affairs and the Office of Territories—focusing on their value to local historians. (This lecture will be repeated at the National Archives at College Park, MD, in Lecture Room B, on Thursday, September 27, at 11 a.m.)

To verify the date and times of the programs, the public should call the Public Programs Line at: 202-357-5000, or view the Calendar of Events on the web. To contact the National Archives, please call 1-866-272-6272 or 1-86-NARA-NARA (TDD) 301-837-0482.

The Latino Body and the National Archive(s)

The Truth About Reagan, Race and The GOP

from John Ehrenfeld

The Truth About Reagan, Race and The GOP

The GOP’s difficulties attracting minority voters to their camp today is in large part rooted in the anti-minority policies espoused by Ronald Reagan.

Oscar Eason, Jr., former president of the Seattle branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People says,

“During Reagan’s administration, the issues and concerns of the Dixiecrats became principally those of the Republican Party. It was precisely at this juncture that the Republican Party ceased being the Party of Lincoln and evolved into what it is today to the vast majority of black America, almost racially exclusive and dedicated to protecting and maintaining the status quo”.

Yet, it’s commonplace for the GOP presidential candidates to be in a perpetual state of reverential delirium, knocking each other over while frenetically stampeding to prostrate themselves drooling at the alter of Ronald Reagan. Each one claims to be the sole and rightful heir to the hallowed throne of the Gipper, the keeper of the conservative holy grail.

As each day goes by, the political canonization of Ronald Reagan becomes more indelibly etched into American political folklore. It has taken on an ethereal life of it’s own and has become one of the most reprehensible mischaracterizations and public relations scams in history. What’s particularly disturbing is not that the reactionary right embraces him as the second coming, to be expected, but that some Democrats and the media have also been sucked into buying the hallucinatory propaganda about Reagan as well. Oh, how nostalgic we are, he was just a harmless nice man who made everyone in the country feel good. Well, not everyone.

As the symbolic backbone of the extreme right-wing in this country and the guiding voice behind the GOP platform today, it’s important that the truth about Ronald Regan’s legacy be continually exposed and never forgotten. Regan was arguably the worst President in US history and one could legitimately point to a myriad of issues to prove this. A failed Middle East policy, extreme hostility towards labor unions, disdain for OSHA and the EPA, opposition to social programs for the poor, large federal budget deficits, support for brutal right-wing dictatorships, support for the racist regime in South Africa and of course, the Iran-Contra scandal.

Yet nothing speaks more succinctly to his failures than Reagan’s policies on race. When today’s GOP lauds Ronald Reagan, African-Americans should know what that legacy means and what the repercussions are in today’s world.

The Citizens Commission on Civil Rights said,

“Ronald Reagan caused an across-the-board breakdown in the machinery constructed by six previous administrations to protect civil rights.”

Many call Reagan a racist. Was he? I don’t know. But did he enable racist ideology in the United States? Absolutely. His actions spoke clearly to that point.

Symbolic moments in time tend to mean something in American politics. August 4th, 1964 was one of those times, the infamous day when the bodies of three murdered civil rights workers were found in Philadelphia, Mississippi. (The story was told in the Alan Parker film, “Mississippi Burning”). Sixteen years later, almost to the day, on August 3rd 1980, Ronald Reagan purposefully decided to deliver the first speech of his Presidential campaign in of all places, Philadelphia Mississippi. That Ronald Reagan would choose such a location to jump-start his campaign for President speaks volumes. There in his speech, he would embrace and endorse the treasured bible of the racist South, states rights.

Reagan’s presidency was an unmitigated disaster for minorities and that legacy plies it’s evil trade even today. The record is crystal clear and unambiguous.

1. Reagan strongly opposed passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the law that barred segregation in public facilities and discrimination in education and hiring.

2. In 1981 Reagan attempted to reverse a policy denying tax-exempt status to private schools that practice racial discrimination and sought to grant an exemption to Bob Jones University. This despite the school’s racist ban on interracial dating.

3. Reagan actively opposed passage of the Open Housing Act, a measure to end discrimination in housing.

4. As President, Reagan cut funding for civil rights enforcement.

5. William Bradford Reynolds, Reagan’s Assistant Attorney general for civil rights stated that the administration would no longer use goals and timetables to help eradicate racial discrimination and sought to make illegal voluntary affirmative action programs.

6. Clarence Pendleton, a divisive Black conservative, was appointed chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

7. Reagan pushed through a cut in federal taxes but balanced those cuts on the backs of the poor, slicing nearly $50 billion from the budget the first year.

8. Reagan cut social spending drastically, disproportionately effecting minority communities..

9. Reagan opposed race-based preferences at a time when minoritys were struggling to break free from the shackles of poverty and institutionalized racism..

10. Reagan attempted to fire Mary Frances Berry, the head of the Civil Rights Commission. She supported race-based preferences which Reagan opposed.

11. After taking office in 1981, Reagan began a sustained attack on the government’s civil rights apparatus, opened an assault on affirmative action and social welfare programs,

12. Reagan waged war on the small, Black Caribbean nation of Grenada which was no threat at all to the United States.

13. During his presidency, Reagan fired members of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights who criticized his civil rights policies, including his strong opposition to affirmative action programs.

14. Reagan attempted to limit and gut the Voting Rights Act

15. Reagan slashed programs like the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act that provided assistance to many African Americans.

16. Reagan supported the apartheid government in South Africa and labeled Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress a notorious terrorist organization. In 1981, Reagan said he was loyal to the South African regime because it was “a country that has stood by us in every war we’ve ever fought, a country that, strategically, is essential to the free world in its production of minerals.”

African American leaders and organizations pressured Congress to take action and ultimately it passed sanctions against South Africa. Reagan vetoed the bill. But Congress overrode the veto.

17. Reagan also attempted to limit and gut the Voting Rights Act and he slashed important programs like the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act that provided assistance to many African Americans.

On election day 2008 remember. This country cannot afford another Ronald Reagan.

Note: Factual information contained in this post was obtained from multiple sources including:


Pacifica Radio

Time Magazine

Democracy Now

The Truth About Reagan, Race and The GOP

The Dream Act and the Latino Body as War Fodder

Fernando Suárez del Solar, whose son Jesús Alberto was one of the first U.S. servicemen killed in Iraq, became an outspoken peace activist, and Founder/Director Guerrero Azteca. His recent post, “On the DREAM Act and the U.S. Military: An Open Letter to Latino and Latina students and all leaders of immigrant rights organizations” deserves a wide audience, and I reproduce it here.

by Fernando Suárez del Solar

In the wake of the failed immigration reform, passionate discussions have arisen among various organizations both for and against the DREAM Act.It gives me great joy to see students taking non-violent action to find a solution to the immigration question. Many of them came to the United States as children and have finished their high school education. Now, because they lack legal documents, they face an uncertain future that may deny them the opportunity to attend college or find a decent job. The DREAM Act offers them a light at the end of an otherwise dark and uncertain road.

I see students on fasts, in marches, lobbying elected officials, all in the name of the DREAM Act’s passage. But BEWARE. Be very careful. Because our honorable youth with their dreams and wishes to serve their new country are being tricked and manipulated in an immoral and criminal way.

Why do I say this? Simply put, the DREAM Act proposes two years of college as a pathway to permanent residency but it also includes a second option linked to the so-called war on terror-“two years of military service.” Our young people may not see that this is a covert draft in which thousands of youth from Latino families will be sent to Iraq or some other war torn nation where they will have to surrender their moral values and become a war criminal or perhaps return home in black bags on their way to a tomb drenched with their parents’ tears.

How many of our youth can afford college? How many will be able to take the educational option? Unfortunately very few because the existing system locks out the children of working families with high tuition and inflated admissions criteria. Most will be forced to take the military option to get their green card. But what good is a green card to a dead person? What good is a green card to a young person severely wounded in mind and body?

I ask our undocumented youth to read the following passages regarding the plans of the Pentagon and the Bush administration.In his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on July 10, 2006, Under Secretary of Defense David Chu said:

“According to an April 2006 study from the National Immigration Law Center, there are an estimated 50,000 to 65,000 undocumented alien young adults who entered the U.S. at an early age and graduate from high school each year, many of whom are bright, energetic and potentially interested in military service…Provisions of S. 2611, such as the DREAM Act, would provide these young people the opportunity of serving the United States in uniform.”

More recently, Lt. Col. Margaret Stock of the U.S. Army Reserve and a faculty member at West Point told a reporter that the DREAM Act could help recruiters meet their goals by providing a “highly qualified cohort of young people” without the unknown personal details that would accompany foreign recruits. “They are already going to come vetted by Homeland Security. They will already have graduated from high school,” she said. “They are prime candidates.”(Citations from research by Prof. Jorge Mariscal, UC San Diego)

As you can see, our undocumented youth are being targeted by military recruiters. And equally important is something that few people have mentioned-there is no such thing as a two year military contract. Every enlistment is a total of eight years.
Given these facts, I invite all young people who are filled with hope and dreams and energy to fight for human rights and for a fair pathway to legalization.

But they must also demand that the military option of the DREAM Act be replaced by a community service option (as appeared in earlier drafts of the legislation) so that community service or college become the two pathways to permanent residency. Only then will they avoid becoming victimized by a criminal war as my son Jesús Alberto did when he died on March 27, 2003 after stepping on an illegal U.S. cluster bomb. Through education or community service our undocumented youth can contribute to their communities and their future will be filled with peace and justice.

Fernando Suarez del Solar

The Dream Act and the Latino Body as War Fodder