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Local students skip school to attend immigrant rights march

Thousands marched across the country Thursday for a “Day Without Immigrants." The event is meant to bring attention to the work immigrants do here in the United States. Protesters also say they are making a statement about recent ICE operations carried out in several cities.

A large number of Austin area families also participated in a Day Without Immigrants by keeping their children home from school. Austin ISD isn't ready to say how many children were absent, but Del Valle was, and it was a huge number.

On a normal day attendance in Del Valle schools a is healthy 95 percent. But Thursday only 57 percent showed up for class. And depending on whom you ask the rest were either skipping school or taking part in a real life civics lesson.

Students were spotted in the crowd as immigration rights protests shifted to Downtown Austin and the Texas State Capitol. Andrea Benitez, a student at KIPP Austin Collegiate, says she came to support her immigrant parents. She says, “America was founded by immigrants so I think that's something for me to speak out about."

And her friends were there to support her. Richis Jenkins, from East Austin College Prep says, “I know a lot of my friends are going through this stuff and I want to help them out." And classmate Jennarae Rodriguez adds, "I want to fight for those who are afraid to fight for themselves. I want to help and support. I really think it's unfair. I'm just trying to do the right thing for other people."

Meanwhile Victor Castillo says he was there to make sure LGBTQ immigrants were represented. He says, “No one is illegal. You can say you're undocumented but not illegal. Everybody deserves to be here in this land. Everybody has rights."

Del Valle ISD wouldn't comment for this story. But they did tell me despite the excessive absences there won't be a makeup day. The students who didn't show up today were counted absent and will have to make up the work they missed.

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