wow! to leave high school the kids need to leave their ID card with a guard!!!!

Valley teens again cut class to protest immigration bill

Mel Mel?dez The Arizona Republic Mar. 29, 2006 12:00 AM

For the second straight day, hundreds of Valley teens Tuesday risked school suspensions, joining thousands of students throughout the Southwest in immigration-related protests.

High school walkouts took place in Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Diego and Las Vegas with thousands of students ignoring campus lockdowns or risking disciplinary actions to protest House Bill 4437.The bill would make it a felony to be in the United States illegally.

"This bill is unjust because it discriminates against Latinos," said Maryvale High School junior Alex Keller, 17, who's Mexican-American. "You can't help but feel like you're being singled out when it will basically impact your people."

More than 500 Valley demonstrators, most of them from west Phoenix high schools, gathered at Desert West Park off 67th Avenue and Encanto Boulevard in Phoenix. Hundreds more, including teens in Mesa, Glendale and Tolleson, also walked out of school. Protesters also included middle school students.

"We are protesting that law that makes us criminals," said 12-year-old Joel ?nte, who walked out of Carson Junior High School in Mesa. "The giant has awoken today."

Many Valley demonstrators Tuesday said a student-led protest Monday inspired them to walk out. By midday Tuesday, Phoenix police estimated 2,000 students had gathered at the Capitol.

Meanwhile, Phoenix Union High School District administrators met with city officials Tuesday to discuss how to keep kids in school. The district's 10 schools are all closed campuses, but hundreds of students walked out Tuesday anyway, with some even scaling North High's fence to avoid turning in their student IDs on the way out.

Federal law requires public schools to enroll all students regardless of their legal status, and students can't be asked how they arrived in the country, said Phoenix Union's spokesman Craig Pletenik.

"We need to engage these kids to know that there's a time and a place to protest and school's not one of them," he said. "You're basically walking out of the one institution that promises you an education and a future."

But some students at the Phoenix rallies said high school is a dead end for many undocumented students who can't afford to attend college or secure a job should they earn a four-year degree without legal status. Several carried DREAM Act posters to highlight the federal act that would allow undocumented high school graduates living in the United States for at least five years to apply for legal status.

"Too many kids feel like, 'Why bother graduating from high school if I'm not even going to be able to get a decent job without my papers?' " said 18-year-old Jajaira Cardenas, a senior at Premier Charter High School in Phoenix. "The law needs to change. It's not fair."

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