Idaho county commissioner says students should be expelled

CALDWELL, Idaho – A county commissioner here says school officials should expel about 350 students, most of them Hispanic, who left their classrooms to demonstrate for immigrant rights at the county courthouse.

“I understand the exuberance of youth,” Canyon County Commissioner Robert Vasquez told the Idaho Press Tribune. “But I think it’s deplorable that they’re out here waving the Mexican flag and demanding rights for people who came into our country illegally. If every one of these kids isn’t expelled, it’s a tacit approval of their activity.”

Tuesday’s protest by students from Caldwell and Vallivue high schools, and Vallivue Middle School, followed similar rallies Sunday in Boise and by Nampa students on Monday. The Idaho Press Tribune reported that about 90 percent of the Caldwell marchers were Hispanic. They left classes at about 10 a.m.

Vasquez, a vocal critic of immigration policy who is seeking the Republican nomination in the 1st Congressional District race, left a luncheon Tuesday to watch the Caldwell marchers.

Some of them recognized him and started chanting “Vote no for Vasquez.”

Vallivue allowed students back into class, Caldwell declared the students truant and the middle school said those involved had to make up the time they missed.

Officials at both the Caldwell and Vallivue school districts said they had no plans to expel any of the students.

“As far as I know there will be no students expelled from Caldwell High School for participating in that march,” said Roger Quarles, assistant superintendent for the Caldwell School District.

Marches took place across the country on Monday after weeks of mounting pressure from immigrant rights supporters for federal overhaul of America’s immigration policies.

The protesters have been urging federal lawmakers to help an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants settle legally in the United States. A bill passed by the U.S. House would crack down on illegal immigrants and strengthen the nation’s border with Mexico. A broader overhaul of immigration law stalled in the Senate last week.

Last year, Vasquez championed a federal lawsuit brought by Canyon County against several local businesses the county contended had hired illegal aliens. A federal judge threw out the suit.