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The No Soy El Army Justice Tour stopping in Newberg!

September 29, 2010

** The No Soy El Army Justice Tour will be stopping in Newberg during the Christians & Immigration Conference on Friday, October 1st from 2-5pm. Join us! **

by Kari Koch, Rural Organizing Project

During one of those perfect Oregon weeks in late August, the Rural Organizing Project packed up our little car with a folder full of maps, a case of translation headsets, a bilingual translator and two amazing visiting organizers. We drove to 6 communities where the presenters spoke of their personal experiences with the military – the seduction for them as youth, its violence towards them &, ultimately, their organizing against the militarization of their communities.

The August leg of the No Soy El Army Tour was a huge success. From a park in Hermiston to a church basement in Newport, people talked about peace abroad, peace in our own communities, and opportunities for our rural & Latino youth beyond graduation.

Ultimately, No Soy El Army Tour is about our relationships – the peace community, immigrant rights community, youth & veterans all in the room together talking about how to make our towns, in addition to our world, a welcoming place full of opportunity and justice.

The unique thing about this Tour is that we are engaging in a legitimate dialogue about the future of the military in our lives. We talk, listen & learn because this stuff is complicated & not everyone always agrees! And dialogue is a wonderful thing; it makes us smarter and stronger as a movement.

At the forefront of many minds this week is the DREAM Act, a piece of federal legislation that provides a pathway to citizenship for many undocumented youth. The DREAM Act, its hope & possibilities, as well as it shortfalls was a topic of conversation on this tour.

At one stop, Maricela Guzman shared her military experience as a survivor of sexual assault and her concern that the DREAM Act offers only two options for undocumented youth – attending a 4-year college without federal aid or joining the military, and then often only conditional residency.

Local youth from the Juventud FACETA took the stage and shared how they are “Dreamers”, youth fighting for the passage of the DREAM Act because they want to be welcome in this country, to live fruitful and productive lives out of the shadows. We had a thoughtful conversation about legislation and our values – and what happens when those two things don’t perfectly intersect.

Though the DREAM Act, and the war funding that went along with it, has been put on hold for the time being, there are still conversations to be had between neighbors about how to balance our community’s needs, communicate between allies across divides and resolve the dilemma of legislation and values.

It was a powerful and important dialogue.  The No Soy El Army Tour is where dialogue, peace and immigrant rights intersect in small town communities across Oregon.

Join us in Newberg at George Fox University, during the Christians & Immigration Conference from 2-5pm for food, friends, visitors & a great event!

Sergio España – Sergio is a young activist from Baltimore who was one of the founders of the Civilian Solider Alliance. Civilian Soldier Alliance is a national organization of civilians working with veterans and active-duty service-members to build a GI resistance movement towards a just foreign policy.

No Soy El Army is a collaboration between the Rural Organizing Project, American Friends Service Committee & PCUN (the Oregon Farm worker Union).

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