"He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water." Isaiah 49:10

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Give the DREAM Act one more Chance

By Fidel "Butch" Montoya

A little too late to try and amend the DREAM Act in Congress. Below is an article circulating condemning and calling for the military option to be dropped from the House version that was recently passed. The reason Senator Reid pulled the bill after the vote in the Senate, was so that when he brings up the DREAM Act again, it will be more in line with the House bill version. There will be no major changes to the bill as demanded by Alejandra Juarez in her article shown below.

Any efforts to change or amend the bill will only create more confusion and chaos for a two week lame session of Congress. All of our efforts must go to attract the two or three votes we need to pass the version of the bill that passed the House. Please work to pass the present version passed out of the House.

In over ten years that the Congress has debated and discussed the military strings option, we are left with what we have. There is no time left to try and create changes that potentially could cause the existing bill to lose support for the present bill. While I appreciate your enthusiasm, we must be realistic and understand that the present bill is most likely the only bill that will be considered.

Push for support and for the Senate to endorse the present legislation. Don't create excuses or changes that will only doom a bill that presently does not have adequate support to pass the Senate. That should be our focus and all of our efforts should be to get this bill passed.

I am sorry many supporters of the DREAM Act don't like the military option, but time for debate on that one issue has long passed the time to change it. It is time now to support the DREAM Act and to get more Senators to support this present bill.

While I may agree with your statements, "Undocumented youth are tired of the vast inequities and limited opportunities afforded to them because of their citizenship status.

We fight for the right to education for all, the right to have a job that helps our families get out of poverty, the right to live without fear of incarceration and deportation, the right to keep families together.

We denounce the Democrats for their political maneuvering offering empty promises in exchange for our vote. "

#1: "Undocumented youth may be tired of the vast inequities and limited opportunities afforded to them because of their citizenship status," but let us not forget that presently they have no "citizenship status" in our country. That is one of the benefits of the DREAM Act to provide them a legal citizenship status so that they can participate fully in the political and social debate in our country.

#2: We too "fight for the right to education for all, the right to have a job that helps our families get out of poverty, the right to live without fear of incarceration and deportation, the right to keep families together." Unable to pass "comprehensive immigration reform" through the Congress, the DREAM Act is essentially a token prize at meeting some of the promises made by the President and GOP and Democratic politicians alike. Too bad, many of the GOP politicians have forgotten their promises to support this bill and have turned their backs and reputations on the undocumented students expecting their support for the DREAM Act.

#3: We must not only "denounce the Democrats for their political maneuvering offering empty promises in exchange for our vote," but also the Republicans who at one time supported this legislation. In fact, it has been the Republicans who are preventing the DREAM Act from being enacted in the Senate. Blame the Democrats for what you call "political maneuvering offering empty promises in exchange for out vote," but don't forget to also denounce the Republican politicians who gave us their promises to support this legislation as well. As I stated earlier, it is their lack of support that prevents our side from getting the magic number of 60 in the Senate. The DREAM Act passed the House with a simple majority. In the Senate, the Republicans have imposed a super majority of 60 votes to pass legislation in the Senate.

It is imperative that we push for the present version of the DREAM Act. Please don't propose or add any confusing amendments or changes, only creating more chaos to a very dynamic piece of legislation. It is time to support the version which passed the House and allow students to dream of all the opportunities they will have to achieve their lifetime goals and ambitions.

Fidel "Butch" Montoya

----- Original Message -----
From: To: "A.beltran
Sent: Monday, December 06, 2010 8:08 PM
Subject: [isn] A DREAM Act With No Military Strings Attached

A DREAM Act With No Military Strings Attached Papers for all Undocumented Youth!

by Alejandra Juarez

On Wednesday, November 10th just one week after the Midterm elections, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) came out in support of the DREAM Act.

Along with Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), Pelosi has promised to push for its passage during the lame duck session.

Both legislators are keenly aware of their party’s dubious standing without Latino support.

Certainly, it was the Latino vote which helped Reid maintain his congressional seat.

Likewise, as Pelosi seeks to become House Minority Leader, her announcement to push for a vote on the proposed legislation is meant to rally support from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and progressives.

But what are they offering us?

In 2008 Barack Obama won the presidency by securing the Latino vote on the promise of comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) during his first year in office.

Yet almost two years later 11 million undocumented immigrants continue to wait for a path to legalization.

Worse yet, they wait in fear as the number of raids and deportations have skyrocketed under the Obama administration, a record 400,000 this past year alone.

The intensification and institutionalization of repressive measures like S-Comm, 287(g), E-Verify, and the militarization of the border have all created an atmosphere of terror in immigrant communities.

Obama's delayed promised of immigration reform also allowed for Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s strike, enacting SB 1070, which represents a widespread attack on the immigrant community not only in Arizona but throughout the nation.

Democratic leaders including President Obama have declared CIR dead.

Instead they offer piecemeal legislation like AgJOBS and the DREAM Act.

The numbers don’t add up

It is difficult to pinpoint the exact number of undocumented youth living in the United States, estimates are in the millions.

According to studies only around 2.1 million would potentially be eligible to apply for legal status under the DREAM Act.

However, the Migration Policy Institute reports that a merely 825,000 or 38% of these 2.1 million would meet all the requirements for legal permanent residency (LPR).

This is a tiny minority who would actually benefit from the DREAM Act, leaving the overwhelming majority with no way to legalize their status and vulnerable to deportation.

Furthermore, one of the requirements for gaining LPR is attending college or university for at least two years; an unlikely proposition taking into account the costs of higher education and the discrimination inherent in our national educational system.

Nationally, the cost of attending college has increased 439% from 1982 to 2007 (National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education).

In California, tuition fees at the UC’s and CSU’s continue to increase from 32% last year to 15% this year and a scheduled 8% and 10% increase next year for UC’s and CSU’s respectively.

The community colleges are no different.

Last year they saw a fee increase of 54% and course offerings shrink.

Along with that grant and scholarship offerings are also shrinking.

And contrary to popular belief “students from lower-income families, on average, get smaller grants from the colleges they attend than students from more affluent families” (National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education).

Likewise, DREAM Act students would not be eligible for federal financial aid -- only loans and work study.

Moreover, the DREAM Act gives states the prerogative to decide if these students qualify for in-state tuition (repealing Section 505 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996).

Moreover, the barriers to socio-economic progress are stack such that racial and ethnic minorities have a slim chance of success in this country.

For example, although Latino, black, and Native Americans accounted for 29% of high school graduates, they only made up 13% of incoming freshmen at the UC’s in 2007.

And that number has decreased in recent years.

The national high school drop-out rate among Latinos is around 40%.

In California the drop-out rate is 36%.

In addition, a significant percent of the 1.5 generation coming to the United States without papers arrive with very little schooling and come to work to contribute to the family income.

These undocumented youth would not even qualify for conditional LPR status.

* Guns for papers *

The other option the DREAM Act offers in order to gain LPR status is two years of military service.

Given the new higher education framework, the military option then becomes the de-facto choice to gain LPR status for most undocumented youth.

Those non-citizens already fighting overseas have gained very little as permanent residency is not guaranteed and posthumous citizenship brings no benefits to families of the deceased.

Besides, the threat of deportation even for those in uniform is still a possibility.

With the continued occupations in the Middle East and elsewhere, as well as the increased militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border, it is very likely that those joining the military under the DREAM Act will see combat.

And although the DREAM Act asks for only two years of military service, we must be aware that there is no such thing as a two-year military contract.

Since the National Call to Service Plan passed in 2003 all enlistment requires a minimum of eight years.

For a DREAM Act with no military strings attached!

Undocumented youth are tired of the vast inequities and limited opportunities afforded to them because of their citizenship status.

We fight for the right to education for all, the right to have a job that helps our families get out of poverty, the right to live without fear of incarceration and deportation, the right to keep families together.

We denounce the Democrats for their political maneuvering offering empty promises in exchange for our vote.

We should not be asked to assist in the continued occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, or in any new militaristic adventures in Latin America, Iran, or elsewhere in order to obtain papers for our immigrant brothers and sisters.

Nor should we have to subjugate our Peoples in their native lands or on the border.

We in the immigrant community are not discouraged by the lack of political will in Washington.

We will continue to fight for a new and just immigration policy based on human and workers' rights.

More than ever, it is necessary to (re)build an independent mass movement for legalization.

It will take huge mobilizations and strikes like those that took place in the spring of 2006 to force the ruling elite to grant our just demands.

More than ever, the passing -- and the content -- of the DREAM Act depends on our independent struggles today.

The future of the DREAM Act depends on us being able unify and push forward in united action!

Students, parents, community activists and their organizations are mobilizing on December 3 in front of the Federal Building in San Francisco to demand papers for ALL!

Join the anti-military, pro-legalization contingent calling for a DREAM Act with No Military Strings Attached!

And join us in San Francisco or organize a solidarity action in your community.



Fidel "Butch" Montoya is Director of H. S. Power and Light Ministries - Latino Faith Initiative. He was the Vice President/News Director of KUSA - TV Channel 9 News from 1985-1990, and worked at the news station for 24 years as a journalist. Montoya also served as Deputy Mayor of City and County of Denver from 1995-1999; and in law enforcement as the Manager of Public Safety, responsible for the Denver Police Department, Denver Fire Department, and Denver Sheriff Department for the City and County of Denver from 1994-2000. Montoya was Licensed to preach in 1972. He serves on the Executive Council for the Hispanic Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Pray for Bernard Pastor

By Fidel "Butch" Montoya

As part of the effort to push for passage of the DREAM Act, the dilemma surrounding the case of Bernard Pastor, an 18 year old young man has come to light. Pastor is perhaps one of the best reasons why we must push for passage of the DREAM Act. He is an example for other young people to follow.

The Associated Baptist Press, in a news story entitled, "Christians join in last ditch effort to pass immigration reform for youngsters," used Bernard Pastor as one of the most pressing reasons why this legislation must be passed in Congress:

"Troy Jackson, an evangelical pastor in Cincinnati, cited the case of 18-year-old Bernard Pastor, a 2010 graduate of the Cincinnati-area Reading High School. Pastor -- a standout soccer player in school and volunteer Pentecostal youth pastor -- was brought illegally to the United States 15 years ago when his parents fled civil war and religious persecution in their native Guatemala. On Nov. 17, he was arrested and detained by immigration authorities after being involved in a minor car accident.

Pastor's high-school friends and classmates have been protesting his detention and deportation proceedings since, and have set up a website, Pray for Bernard, http://www.prayforbernard.com/ to publicize his case and the DREAM Act."

I encourage all of you to go to http://www.prayforbernard.com/, and join with thousands of others in pledging to pray for Bernard Pastor, and join in prayer across this country on Saturday, December 4th, at 1 p.m. (Central time).

"At 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 4th at the Butler County Jail in Hamilton, students and other supporters will be praying as they conclude a pilgrimage and prayer vigil for their long-time friend, Bernard Pastor. At the same time, committed people of faith and conscience from all over the nation are called to join together in prayer for Bernard, for the thousands living in fear of facing deportation, and to pray for the passage of the Dream Act."

Please join with me and thousands of other committed persons in prayer for Bernard Pastor. As a "volunteer Pentecostal youth pastor," there is no question in my mind that Pastor understands the power of prayer and that God will play a major role in his situation, as well as the thousands living in fear of facing deportation. I urge you to click on Pray for Bernard and sign the pledge of prayer.

It is time that WE PUSH THE DREAM ACT FORWARD in our prayers as well!

Fidel "Butch" Montoya

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Pass the "New" DREAM Act

By Fidel "Butch" Montoya

In an effort to pass the DREAM Act in the current session of Congress, the DREAM Act has been changed to meet some of the concerns of Republicans and reluctant Democrats who have voted against the bill in the past. The changes may mean that a bipartisan effort may actually take place in the Congress.

But, it is absolutely critical that you contact your Senators and Representatives and ask them to support the "New DREAM Act" being proposed. There are some changes, but overall it still will allow many deserving undocumented young people to seek an opportunity to continue with their education, dreams, and a journey to citizenship. The young people affected by this bill are children who were brought into this country as small children. They had no choice in the matter and came with their parents seeking a new life and opportunities to better themselves.

For the most part, undocumented immigrants have contributed to the success of our economy and country. In many cases, they have been good workers, good neighbors, and hard working individuals seeking a better life for themselves as their families.

Now with the "New DREAM Act," their children will finally get an opportunity to continue their dream of a better life. Opposition to the DREAM Act is being instigated by rumors, hate emails to Congress, and lies about what the bill will eventually mean to many young people seeking only to improve their lot in life.

We are asking that you contact your Senators and Representatives and ask them to support the DREAM Act today. It is urgent that you please do this so we can put a stop to the thousands of emails, letters, and calls being made by individuals who want this legislation to fail.

Here is a link that will show you the changes made in the DREAM Act.

It is going to take bipartisan support to pass the DREAM Act, please encourage members of Congress to work together to pass this important legislation.

Please pray for bipartisan support and that the bill will pass. It is time that WE PUSH THE DREAM ACT FORWARD!


Fidel "Butch" Montoya