[Editor's note: Please welcome kyledeb, one of our favorite Latino bloggers from the great Citizen Orange, to the C&L team. kyle will be posting irregularly on immigration and Latino matters for us. -- DN]
The nativist noise machine is gearing up for a vote on the DREAM Act after Senate Majority Harry Reid (D-NV) announced he would introduce it as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act as early as next week.
Right now, the nativist growls are just grumbles. The media is too focused on the Republican implosion in Delaware to provide much of an echo chamber. That will change, though, as the DREAM Act comes closer to a vote. (For more on the DREAM Act and the implications of this vote, read this).
As soon as Reid announced that he would introduce the DREAM Act, Sen. David Vittor (R-LA) took to the Senate floor to denounce Reid's ploy "to use our hard-earned money to pay for in-state college tuition for illegal aliens." This, of course, is a false characterization of the DREAM Act.
Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA) took to FOX News to try and tie talented undocumented youth to the tragic massacre of 72 migrants in Mexico. Bilbray of course, is the board member of a hate group, as identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
But at this point, no one has seized on this opportunity to spread nativist ugliness like Michelle Malkin, who has spread her false and dehumanizing rhetoric through multiple blog posts and an appearance on FOX News. There's not much I can say about Michelle Malkin that hasn't been said already. The truth is I debated even discussing nativists like her. For the purposes of the DREAM Act, they have no real political power.
As much as nativists like to cite misleading polls, the public doesn't want demagoguery or sound bites on immigration, they want solutions. The DREAM Act, specifically, is supported by 70% of the U.S. public. That's not to diminish the real human cost of nativists' hateful rhetoric. It is no doubt related to rising hate crimes against migrants and Latinos, and I can attest to the fact that it shrouds migrant communities in terror. But for the purposes of the passing the DREAM Act, they mean nothing.
As read about Michelle Malkin making false statements about the DREAM Act on Fox & Friends, only to elaborate on those statements on a white supremacist website, an idea came to me. Here's my idea: after this post I will not devote a single iota of thought to nativists like Michelle Malkin unless they are willing to sit down and have a conversation with Gaby Pacheco.
Gaby Pacheco, for those who don't know, is an inspiration. Gaby's dream is to become a teacher for children with special needs. Despite all the obstacles she faced as an undocumented student, she has already graduated from Miami Dade College with a bachelor's degree in special education, and two associate's degrees. However, she can't use her degrees for the betterment of this country because she's not allowed to work.
A few years ago, when Gaby became one of the few undocumented youth to come out and publicly declare their immigration status, she suffered through what is every public undocumented youth's worst nightmare: Immigration and Customs Enforcement went after her family. She fought through it. While she and her family are still at risk of deportation and have no path to legal status, she continues to fight.
You would think that an experience like that would make someone more bitter and hateful than Michelle Malkin, if you will, but not Gaby. Instead she embarked on a 1,500-mile trek to Washington D.C., the Trail of DREAMs it was called, to fight for her right to exist in the only country she knows as her home.
I'm told that Gaby gets mad sometimes, but I haven't seen it. She's bursting with love. In fact, she often refers to the people around her as "my love." If you don't believe it just consider what she did when she met the notorious nativist Arizona sheriff: Joe Arpaio. She hugged him. She had pro-migrant people like myself vomiting at the thought she'd hug a a leading advocate and practitioner of violence and terror against our communities.
So, again, I challenge Michelle Malkin, and any other nativists who spread hate and lies about the DREAM Act in the next week, to have a conversation with Gaby Pacheco. This is not a media stunt. I haven't even cleared this with Gaby, yet. She might very well think this is a stupid idea. Even more likely, she might not have the time as she pushes for the DREAM Act.
I want to be clear, I'm not challenging Michelle Malkin to a debate with Gaby Pacheco. This is not about two talking heads going on television to attack each other. I'm challenging Malkin to a conversation with Gaby, preferably in person. I want her to personally meet the people she dehumanizes on television. It doesn't even have to be public if Malkin can't stomach that. I would settle for having them sit down at a couch like they do on Fox & Friends.
Why should Michelle Malkin listen to me? She probably shouldn't, just as I shouldn't listen to her. Gaby probably shouldn't listen to both of us. This Gaby Pacheco challenge is just a simple way for me to mentally block out the whimpering of a small claque of nativists who are likely to get louder as the fight for the DREAM Act heats up. It's also a way to expose just how cowardly and meaningless these people really are.