Aurora Student Walkouts “an American Thing”

No longer restricted to the coasts, student walkouts for immigrant rights have reached the heartland:

Police estimated about 1,000 students, mostly from East Aurora High and West Aurora High Schools, marched downtown carrying American flags and waving posters protesting the House of Representatives bill. Similar student rallies were staged last Friday in California, Nevada and Texas.

"It's kind of like a field trip … only we're missing school for something that's far more important," said student organizer Jose Garcia, a junior at West Aurora High School.

For many students in the diverse suburb, this issue hits close to home. According to 2000 U.S. Census data, about 21 percent of Aurora's residents identified themselves as foreign born. That's about the same percentage as in Chicago.

This is "not a Mexican thing," said Danny Quines, 16.

"It's an American thing!" interjected Claudia Rodriguez, his West Aurora High School classmate.

"That's why most of the students who carried flags today carried American flags," Quines said. "If you're here, you're American."

"We did not want them to leave school today," said district spokesman Mike Chapin. "But we are pleased and encouraged when our students get involved with their community."

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