By Alex Gonzalez
Southern conservative politicians like Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) and commentators often remind us that we are losing our national character due to the large Hispanic immigrants who settled in the southwest. They like to point out that these Latinos “foreigners” speak no English and as a result are diluting our national character. To these critics, English is the main pillar of American identity, and I could not agree more with them. Anyone wishing to be part of this great nation, acquire citizenship, its American identity should master the English language. So conservatives ought to welcome those Dreamers who now are applying for the “Deferred Action” since most of them have the mastery of the English language, some speak no other language. Because these Dreamers grew up in America, their identity, and therefore their heart, is already American.
But the House on Thursday voted to strip out language in a must-pass defense authorization bill that would have encouraged the Pentagon to study whether young undocumented immigrants, “Dreamers,” should be allowed to serve in the U.S. military. This study is apt because these “Dreamers” already have what we understand to be American values and “American-ness.”
What are American Values?
American values, therefore, are a byproduct of nurture not nature. Today, a child becomes an American through interaction with other peers who are exposed to American flags in parades, conversation with parents about what it means to be an American, and mandatory elementary schooling. When people are born, they are not asked where they would like to be born. Nature and circumstances dictate this event. For example, at the time of birth, a baby in Sweden, Ireland, or Spain has as much understanding of American values, or American identity, as any baby born in the U.S. The acknowledgment or American-ness is a gradual process that birth alone cannot guarantee.
Yet being an American is not simply a natural act of “being born” in this country. There is a unique psychological process that many undergo to become Americans. This Human Revolution to become American, is unlike any other in the world, but it is consistent and through time creates the individual as a Proud American. This nationalistic, uncontrollable, process of becoming a proud American is open to all those born in the U.S. and those who were born abroad but came here at early age.
Similarly, according to Samuel Huntington, national identities are constructed by ideology promoted by the state. People develop their identity “under varying degrees of pressure, inducement and freedom, and identities are imagined selves, which can later be used to build a national character by putting many individuals together under pressure (war) to create a bond. Dreamers already “imagine” themselves as Americans and have developed an emotional attachment to America. Therefore, under any conservative political theory of loyalist, or patriotism, these Dreamers that now will be able to stand tall, unafraid, and out of the shadows.
With this new in the Defense Bill, Dreamers who came here at young age, and who may not know any other nation or language, will engage in even deeper bonding to the US and that develop a stronger nation identity as Americans. The Defense Bill to allow Deferred Action applicants, will bring young Hispanic Dreamer closer to a full integration to our national creed and to a mainstream American identity. If Huntington is right, people can aspire to an identity but not be able to achieve it unless they are welcome by those who already have that identity. Dreamers already have an American identity, but they also need to be welcomed.
Furthermore, conservative politicians should acknowledge, the “sins of the fathers” are not the sins of the Dreamers, the same way that the “original sins” of our Founding Fathers are no longer our sins, slavery. Therefore, we feel morally freed from any past guilt. Our conservative individualistic values, or personal accountability, have liberated us from any past sins, because, under conservatism, each individual ought to judge and be held accountable for their own acts and personal character. This is why we should set the Dreamers free of any past fault by the parents and let them be free Americans. This is the same principle that built our great nation.
Alex Gonzalez is a political Analyst and Political Director for Latinos Ready To Vote. comments at firstname.lastname@example.org