Thousands of students walked out of class in California and Texas, and crowds in Detroit marched toward downtown Monday as immigrant supporters continued nearly a week of street protests against proposed immigration reforms.
In Washington, where lawmakers were discussing immigration legislation, about 100 demonstrators wore handcuffs to protest a proposal to criminalize aid programs for immigrants.
The Senate Judiciary Committee rejected that proposal Monday, approving an amendment that would protect charitable groups, but it also approved more than doubling the current force of 11,300 Border Patrol agents over the next six years.
Protesters organized by immigrant supporters including the Catholic Church have rallied in cities across the country, loudly objecting to legislation that would make it a felony to be in the U.S. illegally, impose new penalties on employers who hire illegal immigrants, and build fences along part of the U.S.-Mexican border.
More than 500,000 gathered in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday, and tens of thousands rallied in Phoenix and Milwaukee last week.
Walkout in L.A. schools
On Monday, California’s Cesar Chavez Day, at least 800 students walked out from eight Los Angeles-area schools ranging from the San Fernando Valley to the wealthy coastal enclave of Pacific Palisades, said Monica Carazo, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Unified School District.
By midmorning, the protests spread to downtown, where hundreds more students were walking the streets and chanting.
Officials at Huntington Park High School, south of downtown, locked the gates after classes started, but the students climbed over a chain-link fence and joined marchers in their heavily immigrant community.
Hundreds of teenagers also walked out of several high schools in Dallas and headed for a rally at a park, some carrying Mexican flags and others posters calling for Congress to recognize immigrant rights.
‘Do you see the community?’
In Detroit, protesters waving Mexican flags marched from the southwest side of the city where many Latinos live toward a federal building downtown.
“We are illegal immigrants if you trace our heritage all the way back, but we are here and we are working and we are living the American dream,” said Janet Padron, a 22-year-old Allen Park, Mich., resident who was raised in California.
“Do you see the community?” Padron asked, pointing to the thousands of people surrounding her. “Do you see how many people didn’t go to work today?”