Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Op/Ed: The Devil and the Dream Act by Javier Castano - QueensLatino.com

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Congressman Luis Gutiérrez

Amid virgins, saints and repentant politicans, immigration reform begins its ascent pass immigration reform,” said Rep. Luis Gutierrez, with his hand on his chest and invoking God. “But we still have a window to complete our dream.”

Gutierrez also identified the Devil: The Republicans.

The audience applauded and shouted, “Yes We Can,” every time that Gutierrez attacked the devil. The immense Christ who was on his back stood petrified.

The Chicago congressman also did acts of magic, took the pen from his jacket that he sent to President Barack Obama to sign the order to halt the deportation of illegal immigrants. “Our goal is to postpone the deportations and get the Dream Act.”

He then used soapbox phrases: “Today is born a movement that requires 100% of each one of us,” “This is a historic day” and we “will not rest until all illegal immigrants are legalized.” The crowd was delirious as Congressman Gutierrez spoke of the American Dream.

At his side was Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, “my great friend and companion in the struggle for immigrants of this nation.” But Velazquez has not delivered 100% as required Gutiérrez, because she has not wanted to sponsor the Dream Act.

Congresswoman Velázquez has removed herself from support of the Dream Act that would grant permanent residency to undocumented students. She would not give her support for the Dream Act.

Velazquez returned the favor to Gutierrez: “Luis has fought for the defense of immigrants and we need to organize because the approval of the Dream Act is a Christian and human act … The Dream Act is like a down payment on immigration reform.”


“Lying in the house of the Lord is a sin,” said Jacinto Negron, who was sitting at the back of the church with his angelic face and the desire to go unnoticed far from the press, politicians and nonprofit organizations who planned this event. “I do not like politics.”

But it gets worse. The Democrats lost control of Congress before the onslaught of Satan in the elections on November 2. And on the 18th of this month Velazquez handed the chairmanship of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to Charles A. Gonzalez of Texas.

The people who crammed the church of Santa Brigida in Brooklyn were brandishing posters in favor of the Dream Act and against deportations. The Blessed Virgin of the Swan, La Guadalupana, San Lorenzo Ruiz and the Blessed Virgin stood motionless.

Sonia Guinansaca, 21, does not like to sit still. She is like the little devil Republican Congressman Gutierrez talks about. “We want politicians to stop saying lies and … they have used to us to get our votes and avoid being held responsible for not doing anything,” said Guinansaca while holding a sign saying: “Gutierrez does not speak for the dreamers,” alluding to the DREAM Act.

Guinansaca is one of twenty one undocumented students who were arrested for a day last July 22 in Washington,DC for dedicating themselves 100% to the Dream Act and for condemning lying politicians. “Gutierrez did not help, told us that we were spoiled children who do not know how to do things, and don’t even talk about Velázquez because she doesn’t even want to sponsor the Dream Act.”

Guinansaca and her student friends took to the church pulpit to denounce the politicking. “They wanted to stop us from talking, but we did it,” said the student who has no Social Security number and therefore cannot get a diploma to attain his dream of becoming a teacher.

A similar situation is that of Oscar Chico, 18, a student at the International Public School in Corona, Queens. “I can go to college because I won a scholarship, but many of my colleagues cannot attend because they are undocumented,” said Chico standing beside one of the virgins embedded in the walls of the front of the temple.

On one side of the church, against the wall, Miguel Piedra was holding a banner of the United Front of Ecuadorian immigrants. “I am here to demand immigration reform and advocacy for Latino families,” said Piedra.

Jesus Morelo also went to church to support the passage of the Dream Act and immigration reform. He was standing behind Felicita Osorio, who said: “My son Antonio of 24 years could not go to college because he did not have papers and hopefully this will not continue to happen to other immigrants.”
Angel Vera of Make the Road New York, the organizers, said “it is important to fight for legislation in favor of immigrants and against abuse of the system.”

From the pulpit and close to politicians, a woman screamed: “I am Guadalupe, undocumented, and I have no fear.” Not of the politicians, the devil or La Migra.

Among the politicians who spoke in favor of illegal immigrants were Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito, New York City Council President Christine Quinn, Queens Councilman Daniel Dromm, Manhattan Councilman Ydanis Rodríguez , New York State Senator-elect Adriano Espaillat, Congressman Anthony Weiner and New York City Comptroller John Liu.

All spoke of the American Dream that also belongs to the 12 million undocumented immigrants in this nation.

In the fiscal year that ended two months ago, the U.S. government has deported 390.000, of which 50 percent have criminal records It is the largest number of deportations
in the history of this nation and reflects the new strategy of the Office of Homeland Security.

It represents an increase of more than 23,000 deportations compared with the previous fiscal year. A total of 81,000 have a criminal past.

The Movement of Immigrants in Action (MIA) had posted signs in several parts of the church to attract attention. At the national level they want to stop the deportations and pass the Dream Act; in New York they are seeking to prevent the Safe Communities program from taking fingerprints of criminal suspects; and at the city level that the La Migra (ICE) is removed from operating in Rikers Island.

Congressman Gutierrez said that if people were willing to give 100%, “then we give you 100% and together we will approve the Dream Act.” He thanked Javier Valdes and Ana Maria Archila of Make the Road New York and the group left the church together after having served its purpose.

The saints and virgins stood as witnesses to the national campaign “to stop the deportations and pass the Dream Act.”

May God listen to all of our confessions.

Translated from Spanish by the National Institute for Latino Policy (NiLP)