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Immigrants vs Homeless Veterans: A False Narrative on the Government Shut down and how those in power pit one vulnerable population against another

January 23, 2018

On Friday, young immigrants, who have been the beneficiaries of the DACA program, held a rally/action in downtown Grand Rapids. Before the action began, some local TV news people interviewed one of the organizers and asked him, if the government shuts down, how will you respond to claims that the Dream Act could take funding away from other vulnerable groups. Here is the response from Danny Caracheo, as reported by WZZM 13.

I spoke with Danny Caracheo on Thursday, while he was in Washington DC to pressure Michigan members of Congress to pass a clean Dream Act. Caracheo told me that when speaking with Senator Debbie Stabenow, he was asked by her how he would feel of passing a clean Dream Act would result in federal funding cuts for other social service programs.

Such questions, by the news media or by members of Congress creates a false narrative and ends up pitting one group of vulnerable people against another. It is a false narrative because it makes people think that Congressional funding for social services in limited and can’t adequately support all the programs asking for money. This is simply not true. In fact, there is more than enough money to provide both DACA recipients and homeless veterans with what they need. Ultimately, it comes to to priorities.

I can think of three easy ways to make it so that all social programs could be funded, by changing the priorities of the federal budget.

  1. The current Tax plan aside, the US has not adequately taxed the wealthiest individuals for decades. if the wealthiest individuals and families were taxed now like they were in the middle of the 20th century, there would be enough money to fund all social programs for the most vulnerable populations in the US.
  2. Corporate Welfare. In a 2014 article in Forbes magazine, they estimated that corporate welfare for the top 500 companies cost the public $63 Billion. $63 billion ought to cover the costs of most of the major social service programs that Congress claims would be cut if the Dream Act was passed.
  3. Of course, the largest amount of money that could be used for social programs could come from the current Department of Defense budget, which is roughly $640 Billion for 2018. You can see by the pie chart below, that the US military budget uses more than 50% of all federal spending.

One can look at the ongoing spending for the US War in Afghanistan, or Iraq or US military spending since 2001, by checking out the counters from the National Priorities Project. Watch the millions of dollars being spent every minutes is staggering.

The reality is that the US could fund the DACA program, services for homeless veterans, refugees, people with disabilities, provide free education and free health care for the entire nation, if Congress did not chose to spend most of public tax dollars on militarism and war.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said during his Beyond Vietnam speech in 1967:

“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.” 

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