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http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/3758105.html

Opinions split over red, white and green

Mexican flags divisive topic as principal shows his support for student protests

By JENNIFER RADCLIFFE

Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle

Reagan High School Principal Robert Pambello was ordered to remove a Mexican flag Wednesday morning that he had hoisted below the U.S. and Texas flags that typically fly in front of his school — a symbol he agreed to fly to show support for his predominantly Hispanic student body.

At nearby Hamilton Middle School, a child was asked to wipe off Mexican and U.S. flags painted on his face. Hundreds of other students carried Mexican flags during walkouts Wednesday — acts of protest that they vow to continue until Congress rejects legislation that would further restrict immigration.

"There's no other way to be heard ... It's not the best way or the right way, but it's our way," Reagan freshman Jose Lopez, 14, said of the effort.

The Mexican flag has become a lightning rod in the immigration debate that's consumed the city and the nation this week. Students say the flag represents their pride in the contributions Mexicans make to this country. Critics, though, said watching young Hispanics in the streets with the red, green and white flags is more than they can stand. These youngsters are in the United States and should — at the least — carry the U.S. flag, they argue.

"The whole thing just makes my blood boil," said Bruce R. Wing, a 52-year-old Missouri City resident. "I want them all out of here."

Wing said the Houston Independent School District should fire Pambello.

HISD leaders said no decision has been made about possible discipline against the principal, who declined interview requests Wednesday.

"It is appropriate to fly the flags of the United States and Texas over schools in the Houston Independent School District, since we are a public entity of the state," HISD spokesman Terry Abbott said. "It would not be appropriate for the school district to advocate allegiance to a country other than the United States. Therefore, it is not appropriate to permit use of school district flagpoles for the purpose of flying flags representing other countries."

Raul Ramos, a professor of Texas history at the University of Houston, said most Mexican-Americans see no contradiction in flying the Mexican flag alongside those of Texas and the United States.

"Most students at Reagan High School have relatives or ancestors from Mexico," said Ramos. "The flag represents Mexican heritage as much if not more than citizenship."

Historical research

Ramos noted that there is a long Texas history of both flags flying. He has found Mexican and Texas flags interwined during Mexican Independence Day parades in such cities as Laredo, El Paso and San Antonio dating to 1910.

Calling HISD's decision a reaction to cultural anxiety, he said, "it's important for the school to make efforts to identify with the student body," not vice versa. "The school, after all, reflects the ethnic identity of the students sitting in its classrooms."

Nearly 60 percent of HISD's 200,000-plus students are Hispanic.

Plan to raise flag today

Some Reagan students said they will try to raise a Mexican flag again today. They said they want it to fly at least above the Texas flag on the pole.

"Just because you're in the country doesn't mean you can't show your culture," said Lewis Ramirez, 16, a sophomore at Reagan High.

Carina Muriel, a junior at Channelview High School, said she doesn't think it's appropriate for her rallying classmates to carry Mexican flags.

"If they really want to show devotion, they should be carrying U.S. flags," she said.

Muriel said students at her school are walking out, wearing white shirts and carrying Mexican flags.

"More than half don't even know why they are doing it," she said. "It seems to me that they just want to be part of something big, but they don't know what it is. They've never before cared about politics, or what was going on with our government. The reason they care now is because it gives them a chance to cut class."

Jose Cantu, 18, a junior at Reagan, said he read the 54-page bill Wednesday so he could understand why he's protesting. "It got confusing," he said. "So I wanted to see the whole thing."

Districts ponder problem

School districts, meanwhile, are trying to figure out how to allow children to learn about the issues and express their feelings while also disciplining those who continue to walk out of class in protest.

"I so appreciate the fact that young people are getting excited about what's going on in their country. What could be more inspiring than seeing children wanting to have their voices heard in their political process?" said HISD trustee Natasha M. Kamrani, who represents the neighborhoods that feed into Reagan. "But there's a way to protest and then there's a way to organize to make change."

To accomplish that, students need to be in class learning and preparing for college, she said.

About 300 students from North Shore and Galena Park high schools staged protests outside their schools Wednesday — the first organized protests to be held in that district.

"It picked up today for us," said Staci Stanfield, spokeswoman for the Galena Park District. "I think they're watching it. We've seen kind of copycat protests that have cropped up throughout the entire country and area."

Baytown march

In Baytown, about 50 students — some waving Mexican flags — skipped class to march from one of the town's two high schools, Robert E. Lee, where nearly half of the 2,511 students are Hispanic.

About 200 Alvin High School students participated in an early-morning march. Though most of the students had returned to school by 10 a.m., a group of about 40 students made a 10-mile trek to Pearland High School, Alvin ISD spokeswoman Shirley Brothers said.

Students demanded to meet with Alvin Mayor Andy Reyes, who eventually agreed to meet with a delegation of students today.

Oscar DeLeon, a parent of three children in the protest, left work to watch the march.

"I support them. They've got their rights," he said.

Alvin High School Principal Kevon Wells, who also watched the group, said the students will be treated as truants. Punishment can include after-school detention and being assigned to an alternative school campus, he said.

Text messages spread word

Students said the makeshift rally was publicized through text messages.

A text message sent by an HISD student Wednesday encouraged more walkouts.

Part of it read: "Do ANY of you know how much money our schools make for each student that attends everyday ... Imagine how much money they would lose if we didn't go."

HISD Superintendent Abelardo Saavedra has vowed harsher punishments for students who continue to miss classes to protest.

The 50 Marshall Middle School students who made their way to City Hall on Wednesday, for example, could be suspended for up to three days, officials said.

The district had to spend $5,500 Tuesday to transport 30 busloads of students from City Hall back to Austin, Davis and Sam Houston high schools.

"Any student who engages in this kind of activity today can be suspended for up to three days, and may be removed from school outright," Abbott said. "There also are severe academic consequences."

Chronicle reporters Todd Ackerman, Alexis Grant, Cindy Horswell and Richard Stewart contributed to this report.

KHOU Channel 11 also contributed to this report.

jennifer.radcliffe@chron.com

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I think this nails it:

"It is appropriate to fly the flags of the United States and Texas over schools in the Houston Independent School District, since we are a public entity of the state," HISD spokesman Terry Abbott said. "It would not be appropriate for the school district to advocate allegiance to a country other than the United States. Therefore, it is not appropriate to permit use of school district flagpoles for the purpose of flying flags representing other countries."

It's not about "cultural expression"; it's about allegiance.

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Yeah... but too many of them have no alliegance to the US.

This will only increase unless we solve the illegal immigration problem, the amnesty programs without reform are creating serious problems.

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Y'know. The more I see of protestors flying Mexican flags, the more convinced I am that I'm opposed to any immigration "reform" that gives any kind of consessions to the illegals who're here already.

I'm becoming more and more in favor of an immigration reform that specifically says that people who're here illegally right now don't qualify for the program.

  • Greatly increase the "quota" for legal immigration. (I'd say quadruple it, but I can be flexable about the numbers.)
  • People who are breaking the current law don't qualify.
  • Priority goes to people who are following the law, and are in the country legally, waiting for their "turn".
  • Once the bureaucratic backlog is cleared, begin taking applications from people in Mexico (and elsewhere) who want to enter legally.
  • Provide increased enforcement against current illegals and employers. (This means that there has to be a simple, pretty effective method for an employer to tell if someone is illegal or not. I tend to be a really paranoid, ACLU-member, big-brother-hating libertarian, but I have no problem at all with a national ID card that says I'm a citizen, and that Joe College Student is in the country legally, but can't legally get a job, and so forth.) (Cue sound of opening Can of Worms.)

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Y'know. The more I see of protestors flying Mexican flags, the more convinced I am that I'm opposed to any immigration "reform" that gives any kind of consessions to the illegals who're here already.

I'm becoming more and more in favor of an immigration reform that specifically says that people who're here illegally right now don't qualify for the program.

  • Greatly increase the "quota" for legal immigration. (I'd say quadruple it, but I can be flexable about the numbers.)
  • People who are breaking the current law don't qualify.
  • Priority goes to people who are following the law, and are in the country legally, waiting for their "turn".
  • Once the bureaucratic backlog is cleared, begin taking applications from people in Mexico (and elsewhere) who want to enter legally.
  • Provide increased enforcement against current illegals and employers. (This means that there has to be a simple, pretty effective method for an employer to tell if someone is illegal or not. I tend to be a really paranoid, ACLU-member, big-brother-hating libertarian, but I have no problem at all with a national ID card that says I'm a citizen, and that Joe College Student is in the country legally, but can't legally get a job, and so forth.) (Cue sound of opening Can of Worms.)

If we do any less than this, do we really have a country anymore?

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You're talking about percentages.

Im certain there were plenty of IRA supporters at St Patty's day celebrations all over the US protesting the US.

And Im certain that St Patty's day celebrations were similar to the Mexican protests in the early 1900s.

Not approving of either. Just something that intrigues me.

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You're talking about percentages.

Im certain there were plenty of IRA supporters at St Patty's day celebrations all over the US protesting the US.

And Im certain that St Patty's day celebrations were similar to the Mexican protests in the early 1900s.

Not approving of either. Just something that intrigues me.

I think if I am talking about percentages, then they are overwhelming percentages. I would take a stab at less than 1% of St. Patricks Day revelers were protesting any US policy of legislation. I would say that less than half have any Irish ancestry whatsoever.

Not sure how Irish celebrations in the early 1900's were covered.

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I understand that the problem of illegal immigration is not an easy one to deal with and that the solutions that I prefer are simplistic, but here's my take:

1) No policy will matter until we secure our border with Mexico. I think it's time we bite the bullet and build a wall. All illegal immigrants who present themselves to the authorities will be paid minimum wage to help build the wall and will be awarded U.S. citizenship when the job is complete.

2) Likewise no policy will matter until we have a reliable way to identify legal U.S. citizens, so I'm in favor of a national I.D. card.

3) I'm in favor of temporary worker permits as long as the workers pay income taxes in this country. Their citizenship would remain Mexican.

4) I'm also in favor of increasing the quotas for legal immigration, but like Larry I'm not interested in giving citizenship to those who are already breaking our laws.

5) The only amnesty that should be allowed (other than those willing to work on the wall) is a free pass back to Mexico. After one year those who returned to Mexico would be allowed to apply for guest worker passes or immigration visas.

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Im wondering why the press didnt cover the St Patricks day celebration in Boston the same way.

Why are Mexican flags different than Irish flags?

1) How many of the people in the parade were Irish criminals?

2) How many people with American flags were attacked?

3) How mant of the marchers don't speak English?

4) How many St Patricks day parades have, as their stated purpose, protesting their outrage over the US's "threat" to actually enforce it's laws?

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Y'know. The more I see of protestors flying Mexican flags, the more convinced I am that I'm opposed to any immigration "reform" that gives any kind of consessions to the illegals who're here already.

I'm becoming more and more in favor of an immigration reform that specifically says that people who're here illegally right now don't qualify for the program.

  • Greatly increase the "quota" for legal immigration. (I'd say quadruple it, but I can be flexable about the numbers.)
  • People who are breaking the current law don't qualify.
  • Priority goes to people who are following the law, and are in the country legally, waiting for their "turn".
  • Once the bureaucratic backlog is cleared, begin taking applications from people in Mexico (and elsewhere) who want to enter legally.
  • Provide increased enforcement against current illegals and employers. (This means that there has to be a simple, pretty effective method for an employer to tell if someone is illegal or not. I tend to be a really paranoid, ACLU-member, big-brother-hating libertarian, but I have no problem at all with a national ID card that says I'm a citizen, and that Joe College Student is in the country legally, but can't legally get a job, and so forth.) (Cue sound of opening Can of Worms.)

Why Larry, I'm shocked.

How does your card carrying ACLU side jive with your post, which clearly will violate the civil and human rights of all these individuals :D

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Im wondering why the press didnt cover the St Patricks day celebration in Boston the same way.

Everyone was to drunk to to even waive their flags. . . they used them as makeshift koozies. . .I was there, I withnessed it first hand :laugh:

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Meanwhile, it's do as I say and not as I do from Fox

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/31/AR2006033100932.html

We are working in the inner part and in the southern part of the country to stop migration flows that come from Central America that are crossing illegally the southern border of Mexico. And with all due respect to the dignity of these people, respecting their human rights, they are stopped, they remain on temporary basis in the stations. We offer them services with dignity. And then we send them back to their communities of origin: 240,000 people, people that were detained, and then they were sent back to Central America.

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I knew this was coming :D

http://www.eastvalleytribune.com/62231.html

This week’s tensions over immigration reform literally caught fire in the East Valley on Thursday when students raised a Mexican flag over Apache Junction High School — and then other students yanked it down and burned it.

“I know (they) shouldn’t have burned the Mexican flag,” said Jacob Stewart, a 16-year-old sophomore. “I heard it was raised above the American flag and that just irked me.”

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Im wondering why the press didnt cover the St Patricks day celebration in Boston the same way.

Why are Mexican flags different than Irish flags?

Schools and government places should not be flying anything but the Stars and Stripes. If you want to celebrate the 5th of May by putting up a flag in a bar or by having a parade that is fine.

I am an Irish-American, but I am American, I think that it is inappropriate to fly other countries flags at our government owned buildings unless the heads of those states are visiting

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I knew this was coming :D

http://www.eastvalleytribune.com/62231.html

This week’s tensions over immigration reform literally caught fire in the East Valley on Thursday when students raised a Mexican flag over Apache Junction High School — and then other students yanked it down and burned it.

“I know (they) shouldn’t have burned the Mexican flag,” said Jacob Stewart, a 16-year-old sophomore. “I heard it was raised above the American flag and that just irked me.”

No flag should ever be flown above the Stars and Stripes here in this country

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