About 700 march at South Lake Tahoe | TheUnion.com

About 700 march at South Lake Tahoe

A procession of about 700 mostly Hispanic protestors stretched four blocks along Highway 50 from Ski Run Boulevard to the casino corridor Monday evening to march in support of immigrants’ rights.

Marchers carried signs and chanted: “Si se puede,” which means “you can do it,” to mark South Lake Tahoe’s recognition of a “Day Without Immigrants” that brought out hundreds of thousands nationwide. Motorists on Highway 50 honked as they drove by the large group.

South Lake Tahoe police said no arrests resulted from the peaceful demonstration, which lasted from about 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. However, the crowd was reminded several times to stay out of the street, police said.

Paula Hernandez pushed her 9-month-old child in a stroller to show her support for undocumented workers. The Hispanic population has been angered by federal immigration proposals. Some seek to criminalize them.

“People need to see we’re here to work. We’re not here to take whatever people have,” she said. Hernandez giggled when she said she had the day off anyway because she’s a stay-at-home mother.

Wrapped in the American flag, Alex Valdivia, 13, said he took the day off of school at South Tahoe Middle School and showed up for the protest with his friends.

The “Day Without Immigrants” may have been most visible at South Lake Tahoe schools. With 652 absences reported, the Lake Tahoe Unified School District lost almost $20,000 in revenue Monday, a protest day marked to recognize immigrants across the nation.

At a rate of $28.82 per student, the school district lost $18,790 in reimbursements in one day. South Tahoe High School counted 184 absences, South Tahoe Middle School – 233 and Tahoe Valley Elementary – 35. The schools get occasional absences every day, but Monday’s absences were presumably a sign of defiance over federal immigration proposals, Superintendent Jim Tarwater pointed out.

Of the four schools with significant absences, over a third of Bijou Elementary School students failed to show up to class. Many of the estimated quarter of the 23,609 residents in South Lake Tahoe population that are Hispanic live in the Bijou area.

Still, the 200 student absences surprised Tarwater because of the age of the students.

“These students are young,” said Tarwater, who believes parents took their children out of school for the day to take part in the ‘Day Without Immigrants.’

“We don’t like to lose the money, but it’s also the first day of our statewide testing,” Tarwater said. The scheduled tests were postponed to today.

Monday’s boycott appeared to have more of an effect on the schools and the streets than business operations. A recent study figures 60 percent of Hispanic workers occupy service jobs, the backbone of the tourism economy.

Harrah’s Lake Tahoe reported no unexcused absences from its employees. Spokesman John Packer said 15 workers in the housekeeping departments were absent Monday, but they were arranged in advance.

Embassy Suites had 100 percent attendance at its hotel near Stateline.

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