Local plans set for ‘A Day Without an Immigrant’

By Helena Rodriguez: PNT Staff Writer

If all goes as planned, it may not be business as usual in the United States on Monday, which is “the Great May 1 Boycott” or “A Day Without an Immigrant” Day.

Nationwide, immigrant supporters hope to disrupt the day to illustrate, like the 2004 movie, “A Day Without a Mexican,” that immigrants are a vital part of the economy as lawmakers prepare to reconvene in Washington and decide on what to do about the nation’s estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants.

Local organizers, however, will not begin a planned march around the Roosevelt County Courthouse until 4 p.m. on Monday so as not to disrupt people’s work and school days.

However, participants such as Pilar Moreno, who does plan to report to her job at La Casa de Buena Salud on Monday, said she will take care of her shopping needs on Sunday to prove a point.

“I’m not going to buy anything on Monday to help support my people,” said Pilar, who came to the United States from Mexico at age 5 and became a U.S. citizen in 2001. “I know where they are coming from because I’ve been there. There has to be other ways to deal with these immigrants (than make them criminals and send them back to Mexico),” she said.

Moreno said she has a dilemma about participating in the boycott on Monday, because as the outreach coordinator at La Casa, she said people are scheduled to come see her for help with Medicaid. “My thing is that they should not tell people to don’t go to work or school. I support what they are doing, but they should do it afterwards,” she said.

If any local business were affected by the Day Without an Immigrant, Moreno said it would probably be the dairymen and farmers who would feel it.

At Wal-Mart Supercenter, manager Jay Cordray said he does not think the boycott on Monday will have a local impact. “We’ve talked about it with our associates and with the feedback we’ve gotten from our customers, we haven’t heard much about anything going on,” Cordray said.

As far as workers taking part in the boycott and not showing up to work that day, however, Cordray said Wal-Mart is accommodating those who have requested to be off just like he said Wal-Mart accommodates employees who requests off to attend religious observations or other special events.

“We have had a few associates request to be off on Monday (because of the Day Without an Immigrant Day),” Cordray said. “We accommodate any schedule change with a supervisor’s approval and they will work another day instead of that day.”

Geni Flores, faculty advisor for the Association to Help Our Race Advance (AHORA) at Eastern New Mexico University, said that about 25 AHORA students are expected to participate in the march. As far as the boycott from work and school that day, though, Flores said, “We want people to be free to make their own decision. But I feel that if people do not show up that day, that would send a message that immigrants are real essential to the workforce as well as to our economic system.”

There has been some opposition to the nationwide rallies and walkouts that have been taking place since March in support of undocumented workers. In response to this, Flores said, “Anytime anyone takes political action, there is going to be a backlash. But if people were afraid to take action, then we wouldn’t have civil rights today.”

“I would say that if one understood the serious economic system in Mexico and third world countries and people’s complete inabilities to advance and make their ways out of poverty, if they lived in those particular circumstances, then they would take risks to come here too,” Flores said.

“When it comes to breaking the law, most people would rather see to it that their family has food to eat rather than watching their children starve,” she added. “I just think people need to understand that poverty exists and why people come here and why they work as hard as they do when they get here. Immigrants pay taxes on everything. They fill up their cars and they shop at Wal-Mart. They are consumers in our economy every hour of every day.”