The Suffragettes refused food, and made the British government look bad when it decided to force-feed them. IRA members refused food and made the British government look bad when some of them starved to death. My strong suspicion about hunger strikes is that they make look bad whichever side the media has anointed as the bad guy: and that’s usually the government.
I’m thinking about hunger strikes because illegal immigrants who have been educated in California on the public dollar are whining because their options are limited compared to their classmates. (One wonders how limited are the options are of legal residents who didn’t get the chance to go to some of America’s premier colleges because illegal immigrants took their places.) To protest, they’re going to fast (a fast I suspect will be in the Cindy Sheehan fasting mold):
Miriam, a UC Davis junior, intended to major in international relations, but when she learned that foreign travel was required for the degree, she abandoned her plans because she won’t risk leaving the country. Miriam, who is 20 and has lived in California since she was 7, withheld her last name because she’s an illegal immigrant and fears deportation.
She watched her prospects for becoming a legal resident crumble last week with the collapse of the Senate’s contentious comprehensive immigration reform bill. But she and other undocumented California students are hoping to persuade policymakers to pull one piece of legislation out of the rubble and dust it off: the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, or the DREAM Act.
The bill, first introduced in 2001, would provide a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who entered the country before they turned 16, have lived here at least five years, have no criminal record and have graduated from high school or been admitted to college. The students would be granted a six-year provisional legal status during which they must attend college or serve in the military for at least two years before they could receive a green card.
An estimated 65,000 illegal immigrant students graduate from high school every year and would benefit from such a bill. At present, they are unable to work legally and, in many states, can’t enroll in college.
“The DREAM Act would give me a sense that I was valued as a person,” said Miriam, who is one of seven students holding a weeklong fast in San Francisco’s Civic Center Plaza in a push for passage of the bill. In San Jose, students are fasting outside the district office of Rep. Zoe Lofgren. “I was raised here; I went to school here; I see my future here. … Let us be part of this society, let us do it the right way.”
The college students will be joined today by two dozen other fasting students who have come by caravan from Southern California, stopping along the way to lobby members of Congress in Santa Ana, Pasadena, Bakersfield and San Jose. They plan a rally outside Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s office and a march to the Civic Center.
I hope you appreciated the pathetic, very California plea little Miriam made: “The DREAM Act would give me a sense that I was valued as a person.” As you know, if the choice was completely binary, I would prefer that my illegal immigrants get educated and go to the good side, rather than become gang members on the dark side. What I would infinitely prefer, though, is if we stopped creating these huge incentives. I really can’t fault parents living in Mexico for deciding to journey to America illegally if they know that their little darlings will be educated on the public dime — make that my dime. If we stopped providing these perks, within a few years perhaps there would be fewer parents making the journey to America and more parents working to improve the situation South of the Border.
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