Thousands of California Students Protest U.S. Immigration Bill

LOS ANGELES – An estimated 26,000 students from Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) as well as thousands of others in California walked out of school and participated in demonstrations March 27 against proposed federal legislation that would crack down on illegal immigration.

Students chanted slogans and waved Mexican flags and handmade signs while they walked the streets of downtown Los Angeles. Some even walked onto area freeways, causing traffic jams.

More than 1,000 students rallied at Los Angeles City Hall, and six were chosen to meet privately with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. According to the LA Daily News, Villaraigosa told the students, “I want you to know that there are people right now all across the country that agree with you that we need immigration reform that rewards work, that gives people a pathway to citizenship, that allows families to stay together.”

The mayor then urged students to go back to school. Other Los Angeles officials urged students to ask neighbors to register to vote and work within the system.

A total of about 36,000 students across Los Angeles County walked out of class. Students in other parts of California also participated, including thousands in the Inland Valley near Ontario. Students in Riverside, Northern San Diego County, Sacramento, Rialto, Pomona, Chino, Norco, Fontana, Corona, San Bernardino County, Ventura County and Orange County also protested.

Although the protests were for the most part peaceful, some students threw rocks and bottles at police cars. Five protesters were arrested at the Van Nuys government center, and arrests were reported in Santa Ana, Riverside and Escondido.

The protests follow smaller walkouts that occurred on March 24 and a half-million-strong protest in downtown Los Angeles on March 25.

As a result of the protests, LAUSD campuses will be on lockdown March 28 in hopes of keeping students in school. Immigration issues, freedom of speech, civil protests and events in U.S. history involving public protest will all be topics of discussion. Additionally, there will be an increased police presence at LAUSD schools.

Those students who participated in the demonstrations March 24 and March 27 could face disciplinary actions, including suspension.

The bill that sparked all of the protests calls for the building of additional walls along the U.S.-Mexico border. It would also make helping illegal immigrants a criminal offense. On March 27, however, the U.S. Senate’s Judiciary Committee softened the immigration reform bill somewhat.

  Demonstrations against the bill have also occurred in other parts of the country. Student protests were reported in Detroit, Grand Rapids, Mich.; Northern Virginia; Fort Worth, Texas; and Phoenix.

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