NAYDALLI HARO GOT HER CELL PHONE three years ago as a high school freshman. Mostly, she would text message her mom asking to be picked up. This year, however, the 17-year-old student organizer got a different message from friends that basically said: We're walking out to protest HR 4337, the anti-immigrant bill before Congress.
"I never thought cell phones would lead like this," says Haro, who walked out of Cabrillo High School in Long Beach, California in March with hundreds of her classmates.
This spring, as Congress considered immigration legislation, thousands of Latino teens took to the streets. They walked out of schools across the country as word spread by text messaging and on popular Internet sites like MySpace.com. In Los Angeles alone, school district officials estimated that about 3,000 students walked out on March 24. News media outlets estimated that on March 27, about 40,000 L.A. students left school in protest. In New Jersey, hundreds of students went to the statehouse and in Virginia, hundreds protested outside their high school.
The teenagers faced backlash quickly--from principals who called in law enforcement to public officials who chastised them for missing school. The walk-outs became deadly, at least in Ontario, Calif. where Anthony Soltero, an eighth grader, committed suicide after his vice principal supposedly told him he was going to jail for three years for having participated in the marches.
Haro's school was locked down with police for awhile after the protests at the end of March. In fact, she admits that she was out of the political loop because she doesn't have a Myspace.com...