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3/30 Tucson, AZ: students walk out for a second day
Released 31 March 2006  By ARIZONA DAILY STAR

Tucson students walk out for a second day
March 30, 2006

Large groups of students continue to demonstrate around Tucson today, the second day in a row that groups have walked out of classes to protest a national effort to crack down on illegal immigration.

More than 250 students are rallying at federal building in Downtown Tucson, and a crowd about that large has been demonstrating at Reid Park, but decided around 11 a.m. to head Downtown to join the other group.

The walk-outs began before 9 a.m., when about 250 students from Catalina High Magnet School left campus. Some 225 students also left Palo Verde High Magnet School. Smaller groups also apparently walked out at Santa Rita High School and Flowing Wells High School. About 75 students from Valencia Middle School also walked out briefly.

Administrators apparently were able to stop walk-outs at Tucson High Magnet School and Amphitheater High School.

Other schools are planning forums and speeches to give students an outlet, too.

On Wednesday, nearly 800 students from Cholla, Santa Rita, Pueblo and Sunnyside high schools walked out of classes throughout the day. Thousands of other young people also have walked out in other U.S. cities the past few days to protest legislation on Capitol Hill that would crack down on the nation's 11 million illegal immigrants. Among other things, the legislation would make it a crime to be in this country illegally.

Police have been escorting students today to keep them safe. Traffic back-ups are occurring around the city, though. No violence or arrests had been reported at mid-day, authorities said.

Administrators also are keeping a close eye on the students, even arranging for buses to pick them up and return them to school when they're done, in some cases.

Downtown, onlookers have been waving from windows in government buildings and passing motorists have honked their support for the students.

Alicia Pallanes, 15, a sophomore at Catalina, who is part of the Downtown group, said students want to show government leaders that the proposed legislation is wrong. She said everybody should have the opportunity to better their lives. 'They're saying they're going to take all the immigrants' papers away, even if they're legal,' she said.

At the rally at Reid Park, students expressed similar thoughts. 'Since they're working over here, they shouldn't have to go back. Just like everyone else, they're trying to eat,' said Victor Yates, 17, a senior from Palo Verde.

In Phoenix on Tuesday, hundreds of students left school and rallied outside the Arizona Capitol. Police estimated that about 1,000 students held up traffic along several streets there as they made their way to the Capitol. There also were walk-outs in suburban schools. A Monday walkout in Los Angeles County involved an estimated 36,000 students.

Tucson's Wednesday walk-outs were relatively peaceful, although two students were cited for obstructing a public roadway. Some students also reportedly threw rocks at a vehicle outside the U.S. Border Patrol headquarters. Students at Pueblo also pulled a fire alarm and scaled a fence to leave campus. But the Sunnyside demonstration was allowed by administrators, similar to the effort at Rincon today.

Stay tuned to StarNet and read Friday's Arizona Daily Star for updates.
Students and witnesses, send us your protest photos. We accept them at any size and resolution, in JPG, TIF and GIF format.

What They're Saying:
* 'I wanted them to realize what's going on in the world,' said Diana Enriquez, a sophomore from Catalina High Magnet School who helped organize the march Downtown. 'We want equal rights for everybody.'

* 'Because it's our families, we know they're not criminals,' said Nancy Mercado, a sophomore from Catalina. 'We should support them.'

* Eric Croy, a junior at Catalina, said at first he wanted to get out of class, but after listening to student speakers, he decided the issue was important.
'It doesn't just affect Mexicans, it affects everybody,' he said.

* 'We came out because they want to punish immigrants,' said Lizeth Grijalva, a sophomore at Catalina. 'They just want to work.'

* Palo Verde principal Richard Gastellum walked behind the marchers to make sure everyone remained safe. He said the school didn't authorize the march but allowed students to leave to ensure it be a safe protest.

'This is a safety walk for me,' said Gastellum, as he walked behind the students. 'I hope they are doing it for the right reasons. Hopefully, this will be a venue to create some dialogue between teachers and students so we all learn from this.'

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