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Volume 71, Issue 132, Friday, April 21, 2006

Opinion

Rules are always made to be broken

Christian Palmer
Opinion Editor 

Over the past few months, one topic has been grabbing headlines like it is going out of style. The good thing, however, is the coverage is deserved for a change. It is nice to see immigration, an issue worthy of exposure, is holding its ground on the top pages of our nation's newspapers.

Whatever your personal feelings on the issue, there is no doubt in anyone's mind that the -- for lack of a better word -- problem needs to be addressed. In this humble publication alone, just about every conceivable position has been taken, but surely there are more angles out there aching to see the light of day, and they are all welcome.

On Monday, the esteemed governor of Georgia, Sonny Perdue, dropped a legislative bomb on illegal immigrants with the Georgia Security and Immigration Compliance Act. The act effectively penalizes those who knowingly hire undocumented workers and requires that police look into the legal status of those being arrested. 

At the signing of the bill into law, Perdue defended the position of the state by saying, "I want to make this clear: We are not, Georgia's government is not, and this bill is not anti-immigrant. We simply believe that everyone who lives in our state needs to abide by our laws."

It is, on the whole, a commendable statement. Those who enter this country should follow the laws of this country. This request should not be that difficult to follow. You wouldn't walk into a store and proceed to shoplift and expect such action to go ignored unless said establishment is a super-mega one-stop shop that prides itself on being blindly willing and able to accommodate all customer requests, regardless of legality or financial impact, because they're so big it doesn't even matter. But that's the US for you -- way too concerned about whose feelings it hurts to create and enforce useful policy. 

We can all agree that the cheap labor provided by immigrants is nice on our pocketbooks, but what is the real cost here? It's not that they're "moochers" because they do pay in and do an honest day's work. It would have to be the loss of dignity, but for more parties than you might think.

During the same day as the signing of this universally-declared sweeping reform of immigration in Georgia, at an Inglewood elementary school, students were forced to forego rest room privileges in an effort to curb walkouts. 

Class attendance in the US is understood to be the law, but this taking of such drastic measures to keep children in the classroom is frightening. Many young ones were only allowed to use buckets in the classrooms where they were held in lockdown and, as it turned out, it was all an "honest mistake," according to the Southern California principal Angie Marquez. 

Such measures were designed for nuclear fallout, and though she did eventually realize her mistake, resorting to such dehumanizing policy is hardly the right way to go about keeping students in line, so to speak. While still realizing the need to keep students in their classrooms, it seems extreme to coordinate an elaborate defense for a massive game of hooky, especially when they are only taking to the streets to protest on such a prevalent issue, if not in words then, at least, in numbers. 

Students should not be penalized for understanding and putting into action their First Amendment rights -- something many parents probably don't even take advantage of -- even if they are under the age of 18.

As a matter of fact, us "old" folks could learn a lesson from the children: Don't be afraid or unwilling to take to the streets to support what you believe in. Our nation was founded on such civil disobedience. It is our solemn duty to create laws in line with our beliefs and take action to change them if we change our minds or didn't agree with them in the first place. 

If said citizens are too apathetic or too busy to make sure that the laws are in accordance with what they imagine the laws should be, maybe we should let the children be heard as well as seen.

Send comments to dccampus@mail.uh.edu

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