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    IMMIGRANTS IN U.S. RALLY, BOYCOTT Demonstrators Making Statements with Feet, Voices, Wallets CBS, 5/1/06
    Message 1 of 1 , May 2, 2006
      Demonstrators Making Statements with Feet, Voices, Wallets
      CBS, 5/1/06

      Demonstrators Making Statements With Feet, Voices, Wallets
      Slideshow: Immigration Rallies Across The U.S.

      (CBS) Hundreds of thousands of mostly Hispanic immigrants skipped work
      and took to the streets Monday, flexing their economic muscle in a
      nationwide boycott that succeeded in slowing or shutting many farms,
      factories, markets and restaurants.

      From Los Angeles to Chicago, Houston to New Orleans, the "Day Without
      Immigrants" attracted widespread participation despite divisions among
      activists over whether a boycott would send the right message to
      Washington lawmakers considering sweeping immigration reform.

      "We are the backbone of what America is, legal or illegal, it doesn't
      matter," said Melanie Lugo, who was among thousands attending a rally
      in Denver with her husband and their third-grade daughter. "We butter
      each other's bread. They need us as much as we need them."

      Police estimated 400,000 people marched through Chicago's business
      district and tens of thousands more rallied in New York and Los
      Angeles, where police stopped giving estimates at 60,000 as the crowd
      kept growing. CBS News national correspondent Byron Pitts reports the
      impact was felt on Los Angeles' famed 7th Street Market as 85
      businesses closed.

      An estimated 75,000 rallied in Denver, more than 15,000 in Houston and
      30,000 more across Florida. Smaller rallies in cities from
      Pennsylvania and Connecticut to Arizona and South Dakota attracted

      In Los Angeles, protesters wearing white and waving U.S. flags sang
      the national anthem in English as traditional Mexican dancers wove
      through the crowd.

      CBS News' Jennifer Miller reports from Chicago — one of the most
      ethnically diverse cities in the United States, with Mexicans making
      up its largest foreign-born population — that immigrants of all
      ethnicities gathered together in a show of unity. They marched, many
      holding hands, three miles through the heart of the city.

      In Phoenix, protesters formed a human chain in front of Wal-Mart and
      Home Depot stores. A protest in Tijuana, Mexico, blocked vehicle
      traffic heading to San Diego at the world's busiest border crossing.

      CBS News correspondent Kelly Cobiella reported from Dodge City, Kan.,
      where 15,000 Hispanic immigrants make up half the area's population.
      Thousands marched down Main Street, where usually busy Hispanic-owned
      shops were closed.

      Many carried signs in Spanish that translated to "We are America" and
      "Today we march, tomorrow we vote." Others waved Mexican flags or wore
      hats and scarves from their native countries. Some chanted "USA" while
      others shouted slogans, such as "Si se puede!," Spanish for "Yes, it
      can be done!" Others were more irreverent, wearing T-shirts that read
      "I'm illegal. So what?"

      The White House reacted coolly.

      "The president is not a fan of boycotts," said press secretary Scott
      McClellan. "People have the right to peacefully express their views,
      but the president wants to see comprehensive reform pass the Congress
      so that he can sign it into law."

      Pitts reports that unlike last month's wave of demonstrations,
      politicians didn't simply take notice, many also showed up Monday.

      "The problem is we've been engaging in hypocrisy in this country,"
      Sen. Barak Obama, D-Ill., told Pitts. "We don't mind these folks
      mowing our lawns, looking after our children or serving us at
      restaurants, as long as they don't actually ask for any rights in

      The boycott was organized by immigrant activists angered by federal
      legislation that would criminalize illegal immigrants and fortify the
      U.S.-Mexico border. Its goal was to raise awareness about immigrants'
      economic power.

      Industries that rely on immigrant workers were clearly affected,
      though the impact was not uniform.

      Tyson Foods Inc., the world's largest meat producer, shuttered about a
      dozen of its more than 100 plants and saw "higher-than-usual
      absenteeism" at others. Most of the closures were in states such as
      Iowa and Nebraska. Eight of 14 Perdue Farms chicken plants also closed
      for the day.

      None of the 175 seasonal laborers who normally work Mike Collins' 500
      acres of onion fields in southeastern Georgia showed up.

      "We need to be going wide open this time of year to get these onions
      out of the field," he said. "We've got orders to fill. Losing a day in
      this part of the season causes a tremendous amount of problems."

      It was the same story in Indiana, where the owner of a landscaping
      business said he was at a loss. About 25 Hispanic workers — 90 percent
      of the field work force — never reported Monday to Salsbery Brothers

      "We're basically shut down in our busiest month of the year," said
      owner Jeff Salsbery. "It's going to cost me thousands of dollars."

      In the Los Angeles area, restaurants and markets were dark and
      truckers avoided the nation's largest shipping port. About one in
      three small businesses was closed downtown, including the cluttered
      produce market and fashion district.

      The construction and nursery industries were among the hardest hit by
      the work stoppage in Florida.

      Bill Spann, executive vice president of the Associated General
      Contractors of Greater Florida, said more than half the workers at
      construction sites in Miami-Dade County did not show up Monday.

      "If I lose my job, it's worth it," said Jose Cruz, an immigrant from
      El Salvador who protested with several thousand others in the rural
      Florida city of Homestead rather than work his construction job. "It's
      worth losing several jobs to get my papers."

      The impact on schools was significant. In the sprawling Los Angeles
      Unified School District, which is 73 percent Hispanic, about 72,000
      middle and high school students were absent — roughly one in every four.

      In San Francisco, Benita Olmedo pulled her 11-year-old daughter and
      7-year-old son from school.

      "I want my children to know their mother is not a criminal," said
      Olmedo, a nanny who came here illegally in 1986 from Mexico. "I want
      them to be as strong I am. This shows our strength."

      In the normally bustling Port of Long Beach, about 30 miles south of
      downtown Los Angeles, was eerily quiet, with many truck drivers
      avoiding work. Lunch truck operator Sammy Rodriguez, 77, said 100
      trucks normally line up in the mornings outside the California United
      Terminals. On Monday, he said, just three or four showed up.

      Some of the rallies drew small numbers of counter-protesters,
      including one in Pensacola, Fla.

      "You should send all of the 13 million aliens home, then you take all
      of the welfare recipients who are taking a free check and make them do
      those jobs," said Jack Culberson, a retired Army colonel who attended
      the Pensacola rally. "It's as simple as that."

      Jesse Hernandez, who owns a Birmingham, Alabama, company that supplies
      Hispanic laborers to companies around the southeastern U.S., shut down
      his four-person office in solidarity with the demonstrations.

      "Unfortunately," he said, "human nature is that you don't really know
      what you have until you don't have it."


      Illegal immigrants and their allies across America marched, prayed and
      demonstrated during a day of economic protest Monday, boycotting work,
      school and shopping to show their importance to the country.

      In one of the early demonstrations, about 1,200 people marched in the
      rural Homestead, home to one Florida's largest Mexican immigrant
      populations and many major growers of fruits, vegetables and nursery

      Jose Cruz, 23, from El Salvador, said he took off the day from his
      construction job to attend the rally.

      "If I lose my job, it's worth it," said Cruz, who has a temporary work
      permit that is granted to many Central Americans. "It's worth losing
      several jobs to get my papers."

      Others were working Monday but buying nothing as part of the economic
      boycott around the country. Some attended protests during lunch breaks
      or after work. Church services, candlelight vigils, picnics and human
      chains also were planned.

      In each of New York City's five boroughs, thousands of workers took
      work breaks to form human chains throughout the five boroughs, linking
      arms with shoppers, restaurant-goers and other supporters for about 20

      "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.

      In Denver, El Centro Humanitario, a nonprofit set up to help day
      laborers, was closed Monday because its managers were helping organize
      a rally downtown expected to attract tens of thousands of people.

      But there was little change at Labor Finders, a temporary office with
      several offices in the Denver area, spokesman Tim Kaffer said.

      "The people who come in here really can't afford to take a day off,"
      he said. "Their daily pay just takes care of their hotel and food."

      In New Orleans, several thousand demonstrators attended a rally,
      carrying signs that read `"Proud to rebuild" and "We come to work."

      Derrick Trundle, 29, of Metairie, La. said he sends money to his
      mother in Honduras every month. "We don't come here to do anything
      bad," Trundle said. "Just support our family because our country is so
      very poor."

      Thanks to the success of previous rallies, planning for Monday's
      events, collectively called Un Dia Sin Inmigrantes, or A Day Without
      Immigrants, is widespread, though fragmented. Rallies were planned in
      at least 60 U.S. cities today, CBS News national correspondent Byron
      Pitts reports.

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

      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 and advised protesters against waving flags of their native

      "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. It could be the largest immigrant rally ever in
      Chicago, Pitts reports. 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.



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