DREAM Now Recap: The Ghost of Virgil Goode Possesses the Republican Party

(noon – promoted by Nightprowlkitty)

Originally posted on Citizen Orange.

The “DREAM Now Series: Letters to Barack Obama” is a social media campaign that launched Monday, July 19, to underscore the urgent need to pass the DREAM Act. The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, S. 729, would help tens of thousands of young people, American in all but paperwork, to earn legal status, provided they graduate from U.S. high schools, have good moral character, and complete either two years of college or military service.  With broader comprehensive immigration reform stuck in partisan gridlock, the time is now for the White House and Congress to step up and pass the DREAM Act!

A lot has happened as we complete the third week of the DREAM Now Series.  The DREAM Act picked up two new co-sponsors in the U.S. House: Mike Thompson (D-CA-1) and Chellie Pingree (D-ME-1).  Two extremely important and influential organizations have also come out strongly in support of passing the DREAM Act as a downpayment on comprehensive immigration reform: the Center for American Progress and the AFL-CIO.  Finally, a major victory was won in Arizona where the deportation of Marlen Moreno was deferred.  Please express support for the above in anyway possible.  It has all helped build a lot of momentum for passing the DREAM Act, this year. 

Just was we have been busy moving the DREAM Act forward, though, nativists have been busy undermining it.

Last week, U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and the nativist organization NumbersUSA were behind a political effort to release an inflammatory memo from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.  The memo was released with the suggestion that Obama was preparing a stealth amnesty without the aid of Congress.  An explicit target of this memo was most certainly possible beneficiaries of the DREAM Act, whom advocates and even U.S. Senators have been passionately arguing should receive some sort of administrative relief from Obama.  

It is an absolute lie, of course, to suggest that Obama is in favor of providing mass administrative relief to migrants.  Obama specifically argued against doing so in his only major immigration policy speech as President, and has ramped up enforcement even more than the Bush administration ever did.

As if the political and misleading release of the USCIS memo wasn’t enough, Republican leadership has sunk to an even newer low with the suggestion that the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution should be revisited to prevent the children of migrants, or “anchor babies” as dehumanizing nativists like the call them, from gaining U.S. citizenship through their birth on U.S. soil.  Led by U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Republican Senate Leaders such as Mitch McConnell (R-KY), John Cornyn (R-TX), and John McCain (R-AZ), have all come out in support of “hearings” on the manner. 

This isn’t the first time nativists have proposed altering or reinterpreting the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.  In one of my better posts written for Citizen Orange a couple of years back, I addressed this very issue when former Republican Congressman Virgil Goode tried to raise this issue in his race against current Congressman Tom Periello (D-VA-5).  Here’s what I wrote then:

Nativists try to make [bestowing citizenship on the children of migrants] seem like an abomination, but challenging this is an affront to the very concept of U.S. citizenship.  To oppose it, is the difference between the philosophical concepts of “jus soli” and “jus sanguinis“, or the “the right of soil” vs. “the right of blood”. 

Virgil Goode is essentially arguing for “the right of blood” an antiquated concept whereby nationality is not determined by place of birth, but by ancestry.  It’s the equivalent of a feudal philosophy whereby your privileges are passed onto you by your parents.  Not only does it undercut a central tenet of U.S. citizenship, but it also undercuts the idea that everyone should be born equal.

I go into this explanation, because I don’t think people realize what a radical affront to the United States people like Virgil Goode are.  These are not people on the lunatic fringe.  H.R. 1940 or the “Birthright Citizenship Act of 2007” claims 104 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives (that’s out of 435 for those that are counting).  This act would strip the children of migrants from their right to citizenship.

Congressman like Virgil Goode like to claim that they are for enforcing the laws that are on the books.  In reality they are in favor of a radical reordering of judicial philosophy of the United States as we know it.  This nativist movement, led by members of the House Immigration Reform Caucus, is on par, perhaps even surpassing, the Know Nothing movement of mid 19th-century.  People don’t see the extent to which this movement has polluted the U.S. government because these politicians still have D’s or R’s next to their names.  If decent people don’t rise-up against this movement, the United States will be gone as we know it.

What is most disgraceful about congresmman like Virgil Goode is that when they rail against anchor babies, they are dehumanizing the very people that they were elected to represent.  Even if they succeed in the radical reordoring of the concept of U.S. citizenship and the U.S. constitution, they cannot very well retroactively deny citizenship to the “anchor babies” that were already born in the U.S.  Like it or not they are here to stay.  Like it or not, Congressman Goode is elected to represent those “anchor babies”.

Kyle de Beausset – Citizen Orange (5 September 2008)

I encourage you to watch the video of Virgil Goode to see white nativist hatred in action at the highest levels of U.S. government.  While I described in my post, then, just how many members of the U.S. House were in favor of this radical reordering of the principles of the United States, I never expected the ghost of Virgil Goode to rise again in the souls of politicians like Lindsey Graham and John McCain.  These are the Republican leaders in the U.S. Senate that are supposed to be pro-migrant.

These nativist attacks are obviously political, meant to appeal to the base of the Republican Party.  They are also a direct attack on DREAM Act beneficiaries.  Republicans are masters of the Overton Window.  If nativists are opposed to giving U.S. citizenship to migrant babies born in the U.S., it makes it even harder to argue for citizenship for unauthorized migrant youth that have been in this country almost just as long as babies.  I’ve defended pro-migrant Republicans against Democrat operatives in the past, but it’s hard to defend anyone when nativism has so permeated Congress.

Those of us organizing for the DREAM Act are trying to do something positive in the face of all this hate, and I’m thankful to everyone who has linked to or is currently posting the DREAM Now Letters.  I will now leave you with a list of DREAM Now supporters:

DREAM Letters Publishers:
Latina Lista
Latino Politics Blog
Life By Dream
Pam’s House Blend

DREAM Letters Mentions:
Blue Mass. Group
Crooks and Liars
Michigan Liberal
Michigan Messenger
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network
Tha Kite

The “DREAM Now” letter series is inspired by a similar campaign started by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network for the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.  The letters are produced by Kyle de Beausset at Citizen Orange with the assistance of America’s Voice.  Every Monday and Wednesday DREAM-eligible youth will publish letters to the President, and each Friday there will be a DREAM Now recap. 

Approximately 65,000 undocumented youth graduate from U.S. high schools every year, who could benefit from passage of the DREAM Act.  Many undocumented youth are brought to the United States before they can even remember much else, and some don’t even realize their undocumented status until they have to get a driver’s license, want to join the military, or apply to college.  DREAM Act youth are American in every sense of the word — except on paper.  It’s been nearly a decade since the DREAM Act was first introduced.  If Congress does not act now, another generation of promising young graduates will be relegated to the shadows and blocked from giving back fully to our great nation.

This is what you can do right now to pass the DREAM Act:

  1. Sign the DREAM Act Petition
  2. Join the DREAM Act Facebook Cause
  3. Send a fax in support of the DREAM Act
  4. Call your Senator and ask them to pass the DREAM Act now.
  5. Email kyle at citizenorange dot com to get more involved

Below is a list of previous entries in the DREAM Now Series:

Mohammad Abdollahi (19 July 2010)
Yahaira Carrillo (21 July 2010)
Weekly Recap – Tell Harry Reid You Want the DREAM Act Now (23 July 2010)
Wendy (26 July 2010)
Matias Ramos (28 July 2010)
Weekly Recap – The CHC Has To Stand With Migrant Youth Not Against Us (30 July 2010)
Tania Unzueta (2 August 2010)
Marlen Moreno (4 August 2010)