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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

We're Here, We're Mexican, and We're Not Going to Take Whatever it is We're Taking Anymore!

Big news in Dallas today, as hundreds of Mexican schoolchildren stormed Dallas City Hall for the second straight day, ostensibly protesting the Immigration Bill the U.S. House just passed. Before we start, let's crunch some numbers:

10 -- est. percent of Mexican schoolchildren who knew why they were protesting yesterday, i.e., the recently passed House Bill. And I don't mean just "because of immigration" or "because they're going to criminalize Mexicans." Look, we'd all like to think that these children are actively participating in the political process, but we know how these things work. The vast majority of these students were just looking for a way to get out of going to school.

0 -- est. percent chance that the House Bill in question becomes law. The Senate won't pass it, and Bush is even against it. Yet many of the children yesterday were protesting against President Bush. Go figure.

0 -- numerical value equal to the effect these protests will have on legislation in Washington, or even Dallas. Next time, they should probably carry American flags instead of Mexican ones. To the untrained eye, it just looked like the Mexican soccer team beat us again.

People one generation older than me totally romanticize the days of their youth, and so they view protest marches as pretty much the highest form of political discourse. They are the ones (particularly the ones who still hold to their leftist protest ideology) who are out there today calling this "amazing," "inspiring," and "significant." They say that "The big Mexican voting bloq is finally waking up and making their collective voice heard." On the other side are school officials and just about everyone else, and they're saying things like, "We're hoping for a good day of school now that the students had their little adventure." Most observers aren't taking this seriously at all.

Then there's the safety issue -- both the students and the general public are put at risk when unlicensed drivers parade down the street with 6 people on the roof of their Sonata. It's kinda amazing that the only casualty in Dallas yesterday was some girl's hand.

I don't mean to belittle the underlying issue here -- many of these kids have parents for whom the illegal immigration issue is very important indeed -- but I have some suggestions for these students, if they really want their quaint little protest marches to make a difference:

  1. Know what your message is, and make signs and perform chants that get your message across. "Viva Le Mexico" doesn't cut it, and neither does the flag of the country you want the right to escape from.
  2. Speaking of that, carry American flags instead of Mexican ones if you want to affect public policy in the U.S. (Note: Some of the more thoughtful protesters actually did this yesterday, and ended up getting shouted at by their peers. Once again, the majority is always wrong.)
  3. You're at a protest march, not a rock concert -- don't cavort in a fountain or have any other kind of fun. If you want to be heard, you need to be all business.
  4. Have the protest march on a day you're not in school, so that people don't think you're just looking for a way to be legally truant.
  5. Protest when something actually happens, rather than after the House passes a Bill that has no chance to become law. You just look silly.
Immigration is a serious and hotly-debated issue with a bunch of nuances that are liable to get lost in the cracks of American politics if we're not careful. Large-scale, uniformed, and unsafe protests like this are exactly what we don't need. Mass stupidity may be able to affect change in Mexico, but that's precisely why your parents left that country. Think about that.


  • At 10:58 AM, Blogger the professional said…

    this is a fascinating issue to me. on saturday, maggie and i were walking down colfax toward the capitol to get some breakfast and we couldn't help but notice that we were passing throngs of latinos wearing white. some were carrying american flags, some mexican flags, some wore shirts that said "janitors for justice" (?), some wore shirts that said "i'm not a criminal," some just wore white. we came to find out that more than 50,000 latinos had gathered in civic center park and around the capitol in protest of (what i understand) is this proposed legislation to make it a felony to be an illegal immigrant.

    i had the same thoughts as you: that mexican flag carriers were sending entirely the wrong message. and the legal latinos in shirts that said "i'm not a criminal" ? well, great. super. thanks for saving all of our tax dollars.

    but this debate over whether illegal immigrants should be considered felons or not? where's the debate? doesn't the word "illegal" say it all? so, sure, maybe the current citizenship system is garbage and this is negatively affecting hard-working, tax-paying, honest latinos (most of whom are of mexican descent) who really want to live in this country. but if they're not paying taxes (which they aren't if they're illegal), they are seriously depleting our school and health care systems and the average taxpayer anytime they use any of these services. not to mention jails and public facilities and the perpetuation of an already serious homeless problem (in denver.)

    so maybe illegal immigrants shouldn't be felons. but they should either go through the proper avenues to gain citizenship and start paying taxes, or they should get the eff out. right?

    and what's interesting about these protests (and the almost comical debate over politically correct terminology) is that the only people who had a right to protest were mexican illegal immigrants who felt the need to defend themselves and their (alleged) right to be citizens of this country. the rest of the latino population who never breathed a minute of native mexican air or aren't even of mexican descent? what are they doing besides taking advantage of their mexican-looking dark features in order to get angry about something?

    the problem is that this has turned into a race issue, when it really shouldn't be.

    and that is my minimally informed take on the topic.

  • At 11:33 AM, Blogger Dan said…

    The only thing I have to contribute is this: I agree with the tax thing. The one part of it I would like to know is what percentage actually do pay taxes. I know when I worked at BeefARoo that the illegals there used other people's identities(which is a completely other illegal matter) so that they could work. I would assume these people pay in taxes and don't take as much out, but who really knows? They could be witholding for like 14 dependants because they know that the person who will get in trouble is whoever's identity they have "borrowed".

  • At 12:16 PM, Blogger Mike Pape said…

    The thing is, after this process is done illegal immigrants will undoubedtly have more rights than they do now. We'll probably see some sort of compromise bill where illegals are granted work visas and border security is also tightened. Gosh, there are so many issues to consider -- terrorism, declining tax bases, crime, racism, education, spanglish, etc.

    I live in a city where the #1 radio station is spanish-language. Mexicans are all over the place, and Dallas has taken notice. This issue was going to come to a head sometime soon, and I for one think it's fascinating that President Bush wants to be nicer to illegals, and I'm kinda glad he's President now for this, since he seems to be a voice of reason (or at least caution), as perverse as that sounds in my head as I write this.

    We had three people in our church/school become American citizens last week -- one was from Spain and two from Mexico. I always think about them and what they must be feeling after doing everything "right." Nobody's protesting for them.

    Janitors for Justice. That's awesome. I wouldn't be surprised if Tony Horvath started that group when he was at Rockford Lutheran.

    There's just a level of stupidity (maybe ignorance would be a better word) about these protests that's unsettling. Most of the kids just wanted a day off of school, period.


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