Finally, high school students became passionate about something – the immigration bill currently in Congress – so much so that they held walk outs and protests. But what was their real reason behind walking out? It is either they didn’t want to go to school, or they honestly felt that passionate about the immigration bill.
Regardless of their intentions, they did succeed in disrupting others by blocking streets and freeways Monday. While school administrators have mixed feelings toward these students walking out, one thing is clear: They are missing out on their education. The students probably thought it fitting to stage a walk out on the Cesar Chavez holiday. But if they had stayed in class, they might have learned Chavez was against illegal immigration.
It is an education, after all, that enables people to improve their status and react in a way other than walking around with Mexican flags yelling “Viva Mexico” while protesting against the immigration bill. Why is it that people always manage to show their patriotism toward Mexico when protesting U.S. policy? If you love Mexico so much, why do you live in the United States?
Many sob stories of illegal immigrant parents working jobs that no other person would in order to provide a better life for their children were told. That is perfectly fine. Struggle is a part of life. This bill will not close the doors to the U.S. entirely; people will still be able to migrate legally and struggle to provide a better life for their kids.
As students blocked the Riverside Freeway and Santa Ana Freeway in Fullerton, the Senate was considering an immigration package that would enable about 12 million undocumented immigrants to become citizens. The students were too busy protesting to know that there are other options being considered. The government is not completely against the illegal immigrants, although students might think so.
Students protesting against something they believe in is not the problem here, but rather the fashion and the extent of their protest. While the Saturday protests were well planned, the student walk outs were not. The theory behind peaceful protests is that the demonstrations remain peaceful. This does not include throwing bottles and rocks at police and vandalizing their cars. As citizens, students do have the right to assemble and can petition all they want as long as the practice of their rights doesn’t interfere with the rights of others. Once that occurs, all bets are off. When students block traffic, they aren’t thinking about the needs of the other people. Throwing rocks at CHP cruisers will not get the message across any better. If anything, it will show immaturity and lessen their credibility.
High school students that want their voices heard should know that there are other ways of doing so. They can attend open forums, discuss the issues in the classroom, write letters to government officials and the list goes on. When every other method has failed, that is the time to organize and protest. Students need to learn these things and refrain from acting on adrenaline and not thinking things through clearly. Cesar Chavez, hero of the immigrant workers, did not rely solely on protests and other forms of demonstration to get his point across.
To the student protesters: Do some homework and try again when you fully understand what you are doing.
Andres Rivera, a sophomore journalism major, is Web editor of the Campus Times. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.