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< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily

Is the Dream Act really about race?

by Janeen Hicks Pierre

Gabe Gonzales of the Huffington Post posted some interesting thoughts about race and the Dream Act. On December 13th he stated:

"I want to thank and applaud the candor of Rep. Dana Rohrabacher from California and Glenn Beck of Fox News. They finally had the courage and audacity to say what so many of us knew to be true but would never admit.

The immigration debate is not about law, not about fairness, not about justice. It's about race. Plain and simple. It's about the fear of more brown people coming into our society, our culture.

When debating the DREAM act, Rohrabacher said, "This legislation not only increases the burden on our hard-pressed government programs and services, but will give foreigners who are here illegally preference over non-minority citizens." Non-minority citizens. Hmmm. That's an interesting phrase. Whatever do you mean Rep. Rohrabacher?

We all know what he means. "Non-minority citizens" means "white people." He doesn't even try to disguise who he's most interested in protecting. It's not American citizens, only "non-minority citizens." The rest of us are out of luck.

Beck was even more straight forward. He announced that the DREAM Act would mean, "...if you're white or you're an American citizen or a white American citizen, you're pretty much toast. "

Just like the Arizona law. Just like Sharron Angle putting Latino gang bangers in her political ads. Just like the manufactured debate about the 14th Amendment. What they all meant was very plain. We don't want brown people here. They aren't welcome. This country is for white people. This is about race. Nothing else. Race.

You will know this to be true by the howls of protest that will come from the right when they read this post. How dare we speak of race? How dare we impugn the character of the non-minority Rep. Rohrabacher? How dare we speak the truth? Watch. It will happen. And you will know them by how much they protest. For Rohrabacher and people like him: Opposing immigration reform is about race.

Take the debate on the 14th Amendment. Why are all these right wing ideologues, strict defenders of the Constitution, suddenly willing to throw out an amendment that has been part of our countries legacy for over a hundred years? Why attack the 14th Amendment? Why do it now?

We know the answer. It's about race.

The 14th Amendment says that anyone born in this country is considered a U.S. citizen. It is our birthright. Since 1868, it has been the law of the land. But now, a number of non-minority representatives, people like Rohrabacher, Rep. Steve King (Iowa), and Rep. Lamar Smith (Texas), want to do away with it. Why? Why now?

We know the answer, it's about race.

Thank god we live in America. It's true that as a country we have a long way to go in solving our race problems. Injustices remain, there are still things to fix, battles to be won, and it will take all of us working together to win them. But one thing is clear, we as a country don't like racists, no matter how much they cover their thoughts up with pretty language and seemingly rational arguments. We just don't like them, and they can't win.

I know there are lots of people who have genuine concerns about immigration policy in the U.S. Questions about security can be genuine. Worries about integrating the undocumented into our society can be genuine. But I for one am convinced that when we have a rational discussion about this, the vast majority of Americans will come solidly down on the side of legalizing the undocumented, and creating a rational, workable way for those who want to join this country to do so. I am equally convinced that those who shout the loudest, drowning out any chance for real discussion, are not concerned about immigration policy, border security or even fairness.

For them, it's about race.

I think the Republican Party has a choice to make. It can allow people like Rohrabacher Angle and Jan Brewer to dominate their politics, or it can chart a new course. It can stand with those flirt with overt racism, or stand against them. There is no middle ground here. There is no ducking.

If you believe like I do that hate and racism have no place in our politics and that only by finding common ground can we solve our problems, then remember the words of Rohrabacher. Remember what Glenn Beck's concerns really are. Remember those words and the words of those who would defend them, and remember that for those who shout loudest,

It's about race."

Editor's Note: This article was mistakenly attributed to Charles Kuck. The actual author is Janeen Hicks.


About The Author

Janeen Hicks Pierre is an associate attorney with Kuck Immigration Partners LLC and has practiced in all areas of U.S. immigration and nationality law and now focuses on deportation defense. Ms. Hicks regularly practices before the Executive Office for Immigration Review, including immigration courts nationwide and the Board of Immigration Appeals. Ms. Hicks represents foreign nationals in immigration court to seek asylum, apply for cancellation of removal, or other forms of relief before immigration judges. She also prepares appeals to the Board of Immigration Appeals and federal circuit courts. Ms. Hicks has over five years of experience in deportation defense and has given numerous trainings for the Georgia Asylum Immigration Network (GAIN) for new immigration practitioners. She also facilitates "Know Your Rights" presentation with the UNC School of Law, and conducts immigration workshops with the Latin American Coalition of Charlotte and the Charlotte Coalition for Social Justice.


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.


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