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Students walk out

March 28, 2006|By Alicia Robinson and Dave Brooks

COSTA MESA ? Following a massive weekend protest in Los Angeles, students from the city's two high schools on Monday marched against federal and local efforts to crack down on illegal immigration.

On Monday morning, about 200 people rallied on the lawn at Costa Mesa City Hall.

Shouting, blowing horns and carrying a few Mexican and United States flags, Estancia High School students elicited honks from passing cars during their rally around 11 a.m. They were joined after 2:30 p.m. by students from Costa Mesa High School, where administrators had tried to prevent mass walk-outs during the school day.

"We believe that what they're doing here is unfair," said Diana Valdez, 17, an Estancia student wearing a shirt that read "Stop Minutemen," a reference to the anti-illegal immigration group that has patrolled the U.S.-Mexican border.

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"We're all students here, we're all workers, we pay our taxes?. Just because we don't have some papers, it's not right for them to discriminate against us," said Valdez, who helped organize the protest.

Many of the students said they heard about the protests from websites like MySpace.com and news reports on television. Several Costa Mesa High students said they joined the protests after Estancia students came near the campus and encouraged them to join in.

"We were in class and we heard them shouting, yelling and honking outside," said student Erika Aleret. "We wanted to support them, so we walked out of class and joined them."

Many of the Costa Mesa High students said they felt they were justified in walking off campus.

"People ditch class all the time for no reason," Cynthia Delgado said. "This is for a good cause."

More protests were planned for today by students at TeWinkle Middle School and Orange Coast College, and a major demonstration is still expected Saturday at City Hall. That protest was called in February by a coalition of labor and immigrant-rights groups specifically to object to Costa Mesa's plans to enforce immigration laws.

Federal officials have been talking about immigration reform since 2005. In December, the House passed a bill that would call for a border fence, make it a crime to knowingly aid illegal immigrants, and increase punishments for employers who hire illegal immigrants.

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