Last week, some of my English as a Second Language [ESL] students at the Lodi Adult School announced that they were participating in the December 12th "Great Latino Economic Boycott" to protest the repeal of SB 60.
"Teacher, we will not be in school tomorrow. We have to demand our rights," said one.
And with that he handed me a sheet printed in Spanish (translation provided by VDARE.COM) titled "Save the Driver's Licenses for Immigrants." Under the title in bold print were the steps illegal aliens were encouraged to take: don't go to work, don't send your children to school, don't buy anything, etc.
Then at the bottom of the flyer: "Let's show the new Governor and the Republican Party that the economy of California needs Latinos. Unite and be part of the solution."
For the few seconds, I looked at the students and they looked back at me.
Finally, someone asked, "What do you think?"
And I told them that they are responsible for their own decisions: "Es cosa suya." Attendance in the class is voluntary. If they chose not to attend for any reason, that's their business.
But interestingly, until their misguided proclamation, I had no idea who among my students is an illegal alien. California law prohibits teachers from asking about legal status. And since I respect the law—unlike some I could name—I make no inquiries.
To be honest, it is better for me not to know. I prefer to assume that in the crazy, mixed up world of immigration law, the students have found some loophole to become legal residents.
But now because of the Great Latino Boycott, the cards are face up.
I have no idea what my students—or any one else involved in this latest circus—thought a demonstration would achieve. The Lodi Adult School goes on with or without Latinos. We have students from Pakistan, India and the Philippines. They couldn't care less about Latino issues.
The great news for immigration reformers: the Great Latino Economic Boycott was a total bust.
In fact, I can't imagine what could have been more helpful. The protest received front-page coverage—a bonanza for immigration reform since, like the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride, it raises awareness (and ire) among fed-up citizens.
But the most important point is that the strike had no impact. Even Mexicans didn't show up at the protests.
Lodi's Mexican population is 13,000. About 100 came "out of the shadows" to march in the makeshift protest. And as if to ensure that the Great Latino Boycott generated the maximum amount of ill will, many malcontents kept their kids—already struggling—home.
Trust me; this is more great news. Teachers and school administrators have had a bellyful. New, non-English speaking students—mostly from Mexico—have overwhelmed the schools. They make providing decent educations nearly impossible.
(Worth noting too: it's against the law to keep a child from class for other than family emergency or medical reasons. But of course no Great Latino Boycotter has been charged. Why should this law count more than all the other immigration and employment laws that have already been broken?)
Finally and amazingly (NOT!), many children submitted the identical excuse Monday morning: "My child was absent because he was defending the rights of Mexicans." What a coincidence that so many similarly-worded notes were passed from parent to teacher.
The Great Latino Boycott's economic impact was a big fat zero, too. An informal survey of Mexican-owned businesses in Lodi indicated that about 75% remained open. At Food-4-Less, one of Lodi's major employers, I asked a cashier if she expected any no-shows among Hispanic employees. "No," she replied, "It's Christmas and everyone needs the money."
So Nativo Lopez, president of the Mexican American Political Association and the driving force behind the Great Latino Boycott, duped my politically-naive students. He influenced them to use their children as pawns to advance his ethnic identity agenda.
But my student's eagerness to back the Great Latino Boycott proves what I have often written: only citizenship will appease illegal aliens.
What the students don't realize is that—even without a driver's license—they have a great deal. Although they entered the United States illegally, they have never had to worry about being deported. And, with talk of amnesty rampant, their green card—and an automatic path to citizenship—may not be far behind.
The students attend language classes free of charge. Once they master basic English, they get job training—also free. If their training is successful, an American might be displaced.
Unlimited family freebies are available for the taking—K-12 education for children, medical care, subsidized housing and welfare benefits await anyone who can put his hand out.
And don't forget the biggest perk of all— precious American citizenship for any child born in the United States.
But now, despite everything, they claim a driver's license is a "MUST"!
Get out your hankies—illegal aliens need a license to drive their kids to the park and to take their sickly abuelos to the hospital.
Okay; some might buy insurance and use licenses for valid reasons. But others—rarely mentioned by the Los Angeles Times—would not buy insurance anyway. They would use their newly acquired licenses to rent a car and drive a load of marijuana to Bakersfield.
Writing critically about my students is tough for me.
But they truly believe that they deserve—yes, deserve—licenses. Not having one is, in their mind, "injusto."
To them, Governor Schwarzenegger (!!!) "doesn't like immigrants."
I like my students and wish them well. Long ago, I learned to distinguish between the individuals and the issue.
But like most enlightened Californians, I yearn for immigration sanity.
My conclusion: Score the Great Latino Boycott as one for our team.
And, although I am not usually in the habit of aiding our opposition by giving advice, I'm making an exception in the spirit of Christmas. (Not Holidays!)
To Nativo Lopez: tell your charges to leave their Mexican flags at home. Waving them up and down the street and chanting in Spanish hurts you.
California, you may not have noticed, is still the United States of America.
American patriots intend to keep it that way.
Joe Guzzardi [email him], an instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly newspaper column since 1988. This column is exclusive to VDARE.COM.