Immigrant boycott aims to "close" US cities

Nov 2005
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Pro-immigration activists say a nationwide boycott and marches planned for May 1 will flood Americas's streets with millions of Latinos to demand amnesty for illegal immigrants and shake the ground under Congress as it tackles reform.

But while such a massive turnout could make for the largest protests since the civil rights era of the 1960s, not all Latinos, nor their leaders, were comfortable with such militancy -- fearing a backlash in Middle America.

"There will be 2 to 3 million people hitting the streets in Los Angeles alone. We're going to close down Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Tucson, Phoenix, Fresno," said Jorge Rodriguez, a union official who helped organize earlier rallies credited with rattling Congress as it debates the issue.

Immigration has split Congress, the Republican Party and public opinion. Conservatives want the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants to be classified as felons and a fence built along the Mexican border.

Others, including President George W. Bush, want a guest worker program and a path to citizenship. Most agree some reform is needed to stem the flow of poor to the world's biggest economy.

"We want full amnesty, full legalization for anybody who is here (illegally)," Rodriguez said. "That is the message that is going to be played out across the country on May 1."

Organizers of the May Day marches, which have strong support from big labor and the Roman Catholic church, vow that America's major cities will grind to a halt and its economy will stagger as Latinos walk off their jobs and skip school.

Teachers' unions in major cities have said children should not be punished for walking out of class. A spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Unified School District said school principals had been told that they should not try to keep students in class but instead should walk with the children to help keep order.

In Chicago, Catholic priests have helped organize protests, sending information to all 375 parishes in the archdiocese.


Chicago activists predict that the demonstrations will draw 300,000 people -- compared to the 100,000 who turned out on March 10 to clog downtown streets. Minneapolis-based agribusiness giant Cargill Inc. said it will close seven meatpacking plants so workers can participate.

In New York, leaders of the May 1 Coalition said a growing number of businesses had pledged to close and allow their workers to attend a rally in Manhattan's Union Square.

But some Latinos have expressed ambivalence about the boycott and marches, saying they could stir up anti-immigrant sentiment amid an incendiary atmosphere surrounding the issue.

Cardinal Roger Mahony of the Los Angeles archdiocese, who has emerged as an outspoken champion of immigrant rights -- even calling on priests to defy laws aimed at those who would help illegals -- has lobbied against a walkout.

"Personally I believe we can make May 1st a 'win-win' day here in Southern California," Mahony said in a statement. "Go to work, go to school, and then join thousands of us at a major rally afterward."

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the son of a Mexican immigrant who has long fought for immigrant rights, has taken a low profile on the issue. A Villaraigosa spokeswoman said the mayor expects protesters to be "lawful and respectful" and wants children to stay in school.

Critics have accused pro-immigrant leaders of stirring up uninformed young Latinos by telling them that their parents were in imminent danger of being deported and accuse them of trying to bully Congress.

"It's intimidation," Jim Gilchrist, founder of the Minuteman volunteer border patrol group, said of the May 1 events. "It's intimidation when a million people march down main streets in our major cities under the Mexican flag."

"It angers the people you are trying to impress," he said. "This will backfire just like the Mexican flag parades backfired."
Nov 2005
I agree whole-heartedly with the last sentence in that news article:

"It angers the people you are trying to impress," he said. "This will backfire just like the Mexican flag parades backfired."
I second that.

I think this will be strategically disastrous.

Waaaay premature.

I am intractably opposed to illegal immigration - but living in a border state I know many of these people and the ones I know are marvelous and have only done what I would have done if the leaders of a prosperous neighboring country had their heads so far up.

But the 'boycott' is just a really bad idea.
Apr 2006
The boycott is a very bad idea, and the people who will just let them walk out with no problems are just letting them get away with what would get any other person in trouble. In my school if you just walk out then you would get a suspension. These people have already shown they are irresponsable, and they should not be able to walk all over us. I think they should have ins agent walk around asking for id at the place, to cut down the numbers.

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