View Full Version : U.S. Prepares For "Day Without Immigrants"

05-01-2006, 08:31 AM
U.S. Prepares for 'Day Without Immigrants'


By JON SARCHE Associated Press Writer

DENVER — Thousands of illegal immigrants and their allies across the country plan a show of force Monday to illustrate how much immigrants matter in the U.S. economy.

Some will skip work, others will protest at lunch breaks, school walkouts or at rallies after work. There are planned church services, candlelight vigils, picnics and human chains.

Hector Castillo, a Denver baker usually keeps his doors open 360 days a year. But anybody looking for his Mexican pastries or cookies will be out of luck Monday when Castillo plans to close his doors in sympathy with immigrants. For Castillo, 45, it's a protest against legislation in the U.S. House that would make it a felony to be an illegal immigrant.

"About 80 percent of our customers are Latin people, most of them Mexican, and the proposed law will affect all of us," he said.

Thanks to the success of previous rallies plus media attention, planning for Monday's events, collectively called Un Dia Sin Inmigrantes _ A Day Without Immigrants _ is widespread, though fragmented.

"It's highly unpredictable what's going to happen," said Harley Shaiken, director of the Center for Latin American studies at the University of California. "What unites everyone that's going to do something on May 1 is they are making visible their strong feelings."

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said Monday he was concerned that the demonstrations "are going to be a distraction from what the real issue is, and that is the need for comprehensive immigration reform."

Rather than a boycott, immigrants should work to pressure Congress to pass legislation that would allow those already in the country to earn U.S. citizenship, Richardson told CBS' "The Early Show."

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., told CBS that the U.S. should first secure its borders to stem illegal immigration. "I would then prefer to see us come up with some way to let" immigrants here "pay a fine, pay a price, then learn English and get on a path to citizenship."

On the eve of the protest, about 3,000 people rallied for immigrant rights at a park in Lynwood, a heavily Hispanic Los Angeles suburb. Organizers of the demonstration called on residents and businesses to support the boycott.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa urged students to stay in school during the day and advised protesters against waving flags of their native countries.

"You should wave the American flag," he said. "It's the flag of the country that we all are proud of and want to be a part of. Don't disrespect the traditions of this country."

A rally in Chicago representing the city's Arab, Asian, black, eastern European and Hispanic communities, along with labor groups and religious leaders, could bring out as many as half a million people, organizers say. They urged immigrant workers to ask for time off and encouraged students to get permission to attend the demonstration.

"Stand in solidarity with people of all races and nationalities because immigration legislation does not just affect one group; it affects everyone!" Sadiya Ahmed, with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, wrote in a recent e-mail.

In smaller cities such as Allentown, Pa.; Omaha, Neb.; and Knoxville, Tenn., immigrants and their allies have been going door to door with fliers, making posters and sharpening speeches. In New Mexico, restaurants cooked meals this weekend to donate to picnics Monday in Santa Fe and Albuquerque.

In Pomona, Calif., about 30 miles east of Los Angeles, dozens of men who frequent a day labor center voted unanimously to close Monday, said Mike Nava, the center's director.

In New Jersey, Rhode Island, Oregon and Pennsylvania, people boycotting work will march to the offices of elected officials to urge them to support pro-immigrant legislation.

Activists in Florida said many immigrants were concerned about recent federal raids, in which hundreds of immigrants with criminal backgrounds were rounded up in Florida and throughout the Midwest.

"We're not officially coordinating a work stoppage. We are leaving it up to every individual. We don't want people to lose a job, but we want to encourage people to stand up for their rights," said Maria Rodriguez, head of the Florida Immigrant Coalition.

In California, a spokeswoman for Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said a boycott would "hurt everyone," while Democratic state senators passed a resolution supporting walkouts.

Opponents of illegal immigration spent the weekend building a fence to symbolize their support of a secure border. About 200 volunteers organized by the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps of California worked on a 6-foot barbed-wire fence along a quarter-mile stretch of rugged terrain near the U.S.-Mexico border about 50 miles east of San Diego.

In each of New York City's five boroughs, thousands of workers were expected to take work breaks shortly after noon to link arms with shoppers, restaurant-goers and other supporters for about 20 minutes.

"This will symbolize the interdependence of all of us, not just immigrants, but all of society," said Chung-Wa Hong, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition.

Some big businesses are shutting down operations: Six of 14 Perdue Farms plants will close; Gallo Wines in Sonoma, Calif., is giving its 150 employees the day off; Tyson Foods Inc., the world's largest meat producer, will shut five of its nine beef plants and four of six pork plants.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops urged immigrants to attend Mass instead of boycotting, and suggested that churches toll their bells in memory of immigrants who died trying to come to the U.S. They also urged students to stay in school.

Denver-area contractor Chuck Saxton, who hires temporary workers, is sympathetic to the movement. "I'm going to go to support them. These guys come here, they work hard and they're honest," he said. "They provide a vibrancy to our economy and our country that is fading."

05-01-2006, 04:37 PM
What kinda bullshit is this? People come here illegally because they wanna work and then they try to hurt our economy when they don't get special or equal treatment.