'A Day Without Immigrants' protests: L.A. Unified urges students not to take part

L.A. Unified is urging students not to join in any walkouts or demonstrations planned for Thursday as part of a national “Day Without Immigrants” being marked across the country.

The nation’s second-largest school district contacted parents and employees via voicemail on Wednesday evening with a recording by Alma Pena-Sanchez, LAUSD’s chief of staff.

“While we respect everyone’s right to have their voices heard and to participate in civic action such as protest, all students and staff are encouraged and expected to come to school,” Pena-Sanchez said.

“A Day Without Immigrants” actions are expected to take place in Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and other cities with large immigrant populations. 

Activists are encouraging immigrants to skip work, avoid shopping and otherwise withdraw from the economy for a day to make clear the roles they play in American society.

The protest action was prompted by the policy goals voiced by President Trump, who has vowed to ramp up deportations of those in the country illegally and build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

Schools and universities across the nation have been the centers of protests, walkouts and unrest.

A week after the election, L.A. Unified, which is 74% Latino, saw thousands of students stream from classrooms and gather at Boyle Heights’ Mariachi Plaza and Lincoln Park in Lincoln Heights before marching to City Hall.

To alleviate anxiety among students and parents, the district has set up a hotline and offered “extended support sites,” with a full list of resources on a website for “post-election resources.”

In her message on Wednesday evening to the LAUSD community, Pena-Sanchez said that the various campuses offer a “safe and productive forum where students can express their thoughts and feelings.” 

“I urge students and staff not to disrupt learning by participating in protest or walkouts during the instructional day,” Pena-Sanchez said.

Organizers of the national event say some businesses will close their doors as part of the protest.

But some immigrant rights groups in Los Angeles said they decided not to participate.

matt.hamilton@latimes.com

Twitter: @MattHjourno

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UPDATES:

10:45 a.m.: This post was updated with some immigrant rights groups in Los Angeles saying they decided not to participate.

7:50 a.m., Thursday: Updated with more details about the protest.

This post was originally published at 11 p.m. Wednesday.

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