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Quick Guide & Transcript: Thousands march for immigrant rights, France proposes new jobs law

(CNN Student News) -- April 11, 2006

Quick Guide

A Day of Action - Find out what immigration reform has to do with a sea of white T-shirts.

Class Credit? - Debate whether some students should receive credit for joining a protest.

Youth Claim Victory - Understand how the defeat of a French law was a victory for many young demonstrators.

Transcript

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

SHANON COOK, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to CNN Student News! From CNN Center, I'm Shanon Cook. From sea to shining sea, demonstrators speak their minds on illegal immigration. We'll tell you what they're hoping for. Some parents say "no way" to a school system's decision to give students credit for taking part in those protests. And if you're good with names, maybe your own name will appear on the side of an airship like this!

First Up: A Day of Action

COOK: If you live in a big city, you might've seen the crowds of protesters chanting, waving, and demanding immigrants' rights. So far, U.S. senators haven't been able to agree on how to reform America's immigration law. They're now taking a two-week recess. And while many citizens have mixed feelings on the issue, most illegal immigrants know what they what: The chance to live here legally. Immigrants and their supporters turned out across the country yesterday, in what they called a "national day of action for immigrant justice." The white T-shirts you see them wearing symbolize peace. As many as 70 protests like this were held nationwide. Many demonstrators are planning another peaceful form of protest. Casey Wian tells us what we could see next, if an agreement isn't hammered out by next month.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CASEY WIAN, CNN REPORTER: From southern California to Washington D.C., throngs of protesting illegal aliens and their supporters have adopted a new symbol; the American flag.

PROTESTERS (FROM DALLAS): USA, USA, USA!

WIAN: At rallies in dozens of American cities Sunday and Monday Old Glory outnumbered Mexican and other flags, a sharp contrast to previous protests. It's an obvious effort to change the opinion of the vast majority of Americans who support secure borders and strict enforcement of immigration laws.

JIM GILCHRIST, MINUTEMAN PROJECT: I don't think we're at that point where 250 million Americans, the 80-percent of the United States citizenry who wants our laws respected. I don't think we're at the point where that many people are going to accept the demise of the Constitution of the United States of America.

WIAN: Protestors are demanding full legalization for everyone who has entered or remained in this country illegally.

PROTESTER: No human being is illegal.

WIAN: However, organizers, including labor unions, religious groups, Socialists, even those who advocate Mexican control of the American southwest, seem most interested in political power. They may wear white to symbolize peace, but they smell blood now that Congress has failed to pass border security or immigration reform legislation.

JUAN CARLOS RUIZ, MARCH ORGANIZER (FROM DC) We are moving forward. The right wingers, the anti-immigrant groups are still having some power, they are still holding to their power, but as we move along, and after today, we hope to change that.

COUNTER-PROTESTER: Illegal immigrants are lawbreakers.

WIAN: Meanwhile, border security activists are countering with smaller rallies of their own. These Arizona counter-protesters even burned the Mexican flag.

COUNTER-PROTESTER (FROM ARIZONA): Burn, baby, burn.

WIAN: The pro-illegal alien marches are a preview of May first, when amnesty advocates plan nationwide boycotts of businesses, schools and job sites, to temporarily disrupt the American economy. Border security activists say they will be heard too - at the ballot box in November. They say they will try to vote out those in Congress they hold responsible for failing to pass immigration reform and border security legislation. Casey Wian, CNN, Santa Ana, California.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

Word to the Wise

CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS REPORTER: A Word to the Wise...

amnesty: (noun) excusing the offense of a large number of people

Source: www.wordcentral.comexternal link

Class Credit?

COOK: The Constitution's First Amendment gives Americans the right to assemble peacefully; as people did in Monday's nationwide protests. Would you join them if it meant getting credit toward graduation? In a Maryland town just outside the nation's capital, students have to spend a certain number of hours getting "learning service" credit. Matt Ackland explains a controversial option they have.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATT ACKLAND, REPORTER: Although Montgomery County Schools will have no part in the protest, students who want to participate will get credit for it.

BRIAN EDWARDS, DIR. OF COMMUNICATIONS, MONTGOMERY COUNTY SCHOOLS: The reasoning behind that is because it allows students to learn civics. They learn to participate in the community's political activities.

ACKLAND: But hold on a minute, says Brad Botwin, whose son is a high school student.

BRAD BOTWIN, CONCERNED PARENT: This is a question of safety. I would not send my son downtown if there's supposed to be, what - 100,000 or more people downtown?

ACKLAND: These pictures were taken recently of students doing cleanup projects...even providing musical entertainment at a school event. All of it counted toward the student learning service requirement. But some just don't understand how participating in a protest should get the same credit.

BOTWIN: I mean, you can go to the other extreme...instead of CASA, what if this were the Ku Klux Klan having a rally downtown. Would Dr. Weast sanction sending our students downtown for an event like that?

EDWARDS: No student is required to go down and participate in the protest. It's simply an option. And if parents don't want their students to be there, by all means they should not send their students

ACKLAND: It is state law all students must complete 60 hours of student service learning before they graduate. And with time running out for many seniors, some worry those seniors may be putting themselves in the middle of a heated controversy just to make it out of high school.

EDWARDS: We have students who are desperate for these hours to graduate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

Promo

COOK: Our web site is your headquarters for immigration information! We've posted a link to statistics and polls about the issue, as well as pictures of the protests taking place nationwide. And there's also a free classroom activity on immigration history. So log on today!

Shoutout

AZUZ: Time for the Shoutout! Who's the prime minister of France? If you think you know it, shout it out! Is it: A) Jacques Chirac, B) Dominique de Villepin, C) Jean Chretien or D) Charles de Gaulle? You've got three seconds-GO! Dominique de Villepin is France's prime minister; Jacques Chirac is the country's president! That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!

Youth Claim Victory

COOK: It's a defeat for France's prime minister and a victory for thousands who protested. You may remember French lawmakers recently changed their country's labor laws... allowing businesses to hire and fire workers more easily. Government officials thought the change would help ease the country's high unemployment rate. But young workers are often the first to go, and many thought it would hurt their job security. Jim Bittermann shows us how they eventually won the argument.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN REPORTER: After weeks of stubbornly trying to reform one element of French employment laws, Prime minister Dominique de Villepin threw in the towel. As he left a breakfast meeting with Jacques Chirac, the President's office was already putting out the word that the controversial first job contract law was dead and being replaced by a 150 million Euro jobs program to help disadvantaged young people. Minutes later Villepin was on television explaining he was really only trying to help and that his intentions were misunderstood.

DOMINIQUE DE VILLEPIN, FRENCH PRIME MINISTER: I wanted to act quickly, because the dramatic situation and the despair of many youths demanded it. I wanted to offer a strong solution because I believed that only a better balance between more flexibility for the employer and more security for workers, would help us to cut unemployment in our country. This was not understood by everyone and I regret it.

BITTERMANN: In fact, about two thirds of the country didn't understand Villepin's attempt at reform, among them student groups who were the first to declare victory.

BRUNO JULLIARD, NATIONAL STUDENT UNION OF FRANCE: Considering the new show of force that exists today, we want to see how we can profit from this show of force, which is in our favor, to bring about more victories.

BITTERMANN: But not all may be so ready for more victories like the one led by the students. Nearly two months of demonstrations interrupted studies at many university and high schools, at times disrupted transportation and in the end demonstrated how difficult economic reform can be here.

BITTERMANN: As for Chirac and Villepin, who have sunk to just 25 percent approval ratings, there remain 13 months until the next elections...a time in which there could well be further attempts from the streets to bring about, or block, change. Jim Bittermann, CNN, Paris.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

Shoutout Extra Credit

AZUZ: Time for a Shoutout Extra Credit! Which of the following gases is often used to make balloons and blimps rise? Is it: A) Hydrogen, B) Oxygen, C) Helium or D) Nitrogen? You've got three seconds--GO! Helium is one of the lightest elements -- second only to hydrogen. But because helium's more stable, it's often a top choice when it comes to taking to the skies. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!

Before We Go

COOK: Before we go... It's huge, it's famous, it floats through the air... And it needs a name. The Goodyear Tire Company is holding a contest to see who can "name that blimp"! Well, maybe not that one, but a brand new one like it. Previous names are "Spirit of Goodyear" and "Spirit of America." For its latest creation, Goodyear wants something creative. Does the winner get to keep it? No. But his or her name will be carried through the air on a giant sign.

Goodbye

COOK: Well that's all the time we have for the day. There's more Headline News just around the corner-- I'm Shanon Cook.

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