"A Day Without Immigrants" Brings Rally-Goers to Capitol

By: Dana Brueck
By: Dana Brueck

Rumors of raids one week ago kept some immigrants home from work and school, but on Monday, an estimated three-thousand showed up at the State Capitol to rally for immigration reform. The national movement -- A Day Without Immigrants -- also calls for a boycott of goods.

Far fewer people turned out for Monday's demonstration compared to a rally on April 10th, which drew more than 10-thousand people.
Organizers say dreary weather and rumors of raids last week might've had something to do with the turnout.

A day proclaimed "A Day without Immigrants" began with crowds of them and their supporters on the steps of Wisconsin's State Capitol.

"I think everybody's trying to show that we're here in peace, to work and to be friends with everybody," one man says.

"We are not criminals. We just come to the U.S. looking for jobs," Giovanna Mireles says.

The 10th of April Organization planned the rally to coincide with demonstrations in cities across the country.

"The main point of the rally today is to make a call to the boycott nationally, which is in solidarity with the national movement," Alfonso Zepeda-Capistran says.

Some local business managers say they planned ahead for the demonstration, re-arranging work schedules or adjusting business operations because employees wanted the day off.

Other shops, heavily reliant on immigrants' business, closed, including La Concha Bakery.

"I close my business because this is the people who support my business. And I believe in the cause," owner Tomas Ballesta says.
But, as a small business owner, he says he's less supportive of a boycott.

Giovanna Mireles is originally from Mexico City. She says her supervisor gave her the day off of work to attend the rally with her family.
"He understands what we are doing now. So, he says, it's ok. You can take day off, we don't have any problems," she says.
Zepeda-Capistran, who helped organized the rally, says some businesses cooperated.

"Some have seen an impact on businesses after the last event, and they're more reluctant to let their employees walk out one more time, especially if employees stayed home after the scare of immigration raids last week," he says.
But, he says that speaks to the value of immigrant workers.
"The employers want them there, and that's the whole message we want to send," he says.
Madison Metro schools sampled three different schools. It reports absences among Latino children, ranging from 55 percent at a couple of schools to 67 percent at another one.

That's higher than numbers given a week ago -- one day after rumors of raids by immigration officials.

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