Students Stage Walkout To Protest Immigration Proposals

Thousands rally over bills that would beef up border patrols, make illegal residency a felony.

Hundreds of Huntington Park, California, students walked out of class Friday (March 24) morning in protest of a bill before Congress that would reform the Immigration and Nationality Act by strengthening enforcement and beefing up border patrols. According to CBS News, 500 students participated in the demonstration — one of a handful of protests planned nationwide.

The walkout happened the day before the Gran Marcha 2006, which will take place in Los Angeles Saturday. Thousands are expected to march in the large-scale rally, organized by the National Immigrant Solidarity Network and backed by the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators.

"The proposed immigration bill is anti-American and directly disregards the lives of refugees, legal immigrants and many others," said Democratic New York Assemblyman Felix Ortiz. "This is the time for all Americans to demand justice and respect for human rights. We all know that this country was built by the blood, sweat and tears of immigrants and the many generations of those first immigrants who contribute to what makes our country a great country. We cannot allow this bill to go any further. It must be defeated."

The Senate Judiciary Committee will consider the issue Monday. Lawmakers have been mulling legislation that would make illegal residency in the United States a felony crime, impose harsh penalties on those who employ illegal immigrants, and call for fences along one-third of the Mexican border, according to CNN.

Also on Friday thousands of immigrant-rights advocates marched through Phoenix toward the offices of U.S. Senator Jon Kyl. The protestors are calling for a more humane reform to the existing immigration laws. The Republican Kyl, according to CNN, is sponsoring a bill that would give illegal immigrants up to five years to vacate the United States.

On Friday morning, tens of thousands of workers were no-shows at their jobs in Georgia in response to a bill that was passed by the Georgia House Thursday. The legislation — which still needs state Senate approval — would refuse services to adults living in the U.S. illegally and tack a 5 percent surcharge onto wire transfers from illegal immigrants. Close to 200 people assembled outside Georgia's Capitol building holding signs that read: "Don't panic, we're Hispanic" and "We have a dream too," CNN reported.

More than 10,000 people marched in Milwaukee Thursday as part of "A Day Without Latinos." That act of dissent was organized to challenge efforts in Washington, D.C., targeting undocumented illegal workers.