Students skip school to show impact of immigrants

38 percent of Dodge students skipped school today.
38 percent of Dodge students skipped school today.

DODGE CITY, Kan. (KSNW) – Closed signs peppered Dodge City Thursday in support of day without immigrants.

The idea is to show the economic power immigrants in America have by not going to work or spending money for the day.

“A lot of these ‘illegal,’” said Jose Del Real, using air quotes, “undocumented immigrants, they still lead productive lives.”

Del Real is originally from Mexico and wished he could participate in the silent protest, but his detailing business would have suffered.

“It would have been a day’s worth of revenue,” he said. “As you can see, I’ve got vehicles here. I don’t have the luxury of being able to make that sacrifice, but I support the movement. I empathize.”

Schools have also been affected as many students chose to join in the movement.

“About two-thirds of our kids are in school,” said Dodge City Public Schools Superintendent Alan Cunningham. “Usually,we’ll have about 95 percent, I think we have about 62 percent today across the district.”

Cunningham has never seen attendance this low. With the large Hispanic population, and the significance of the day, he thought it would be even lower.

“I’m a little surprised after seeing the numbers coming in early this morning that it isn’t any more than what it is.”

He says district policies give students the opportunity to make up any work they may have missed.

“The parents that wanted to recognize this day for the purpose that it was intended had a right to do that,” he said, “and they chose to keep their kids home. Others thought they wanted to go ahead and send their children to school.”

Parents like Del Real, who sent his daughter to school today despite his support for the economic boycott.

“Not sending your kids to school or skipping school or skipping classes,” he said, “you’re removing an opportunity from yourself.”

An opportunity, he says, to learn and grow.

Garden City Public Schools also saw increased absences today. About 19 percent of students were out.

Liberal’s school district saw their absentee number at 20 percent. Absentees averaged seven percent for Monday through Wednesday of this week.

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