By Tony Parra:PNT Staff Writer
Clovis home healthcare employee Maria Elena-Bojorquez took the day off Monday to participate in a “Day Without Immigrants” rally.
The nationwide boycott, aimed at raising awareness of the economic power of immigrants, was organized by activists upset by proposed federal legislation that would criminalize illegal immigrants.
Elena-Bojorquez said she’s tired of the people using the fear Americans have of terrorism as a reason to close the border.
“People try to claim that terrorists come in through the border,” Elena-Bojorquez said. “All they (Mexican immigrants) want to do is cross to work hard for what they earn. Parents want to provide food and education for their kids. Mexican authorities caught a suspected terrorist trying to come to the U.S. through Mexico. They (Mexicans) want to stop terrorism, too. No one ever makes a big deal out the Canadian border and the incidents where terrorists tried to enter the country.”
Elena-Bojorquez was among a group of more than 300 mainly Hispanics area residents who marched in Portales Chanting, “Si se puede,” “Yes we can,” supporters marched from the downtown square to Eastern New Mexico University and back to the downtown square.
The majority of supporters wore white T-shirts and the first few marchers held a giant American flag while other marchers held smaller Mexican flags during the march.
More than 1 million mostly Hispanic immigrants and their supporters skipped work Monday and took to the streets, flexing their economic muscle in a nationwide boycott that succeeded in slowing or shutting many farms, factories, markets and restaurants.
“It’s about unity,” said Ricardo Navarette, who attended Monday’s Portales rally with his wife Auroa. “It’s about showing support for all immigrants and a change in the laws to grant amnesty.”
The Navarettes also kept their 16-year-old and 12-year-old children out of school as part of the boycott.
Marie Nanez of Portales attended the march with her children. “They’re the Hispanics of the future,” Nanez said. “They maybe U.S. Congress members someday. I felt they could go to school and still have the opportunity to march.”
House Bill 4437, which stalled in the Senate, would make felons of the illegal immigrants and calls for new walls on 700 miles of the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border.
Eastern New Mexico University student Diego Espinoza said he feels it’s unlikely a bill will be passed this year.
“I don’t think much will get done during an election year,” said Espinoza, who also serves as a student representative of the school’s board of regents. He feels politicians will use this issue during the campaigns to sway voters. “I think it’s good to see in a small community to unite all Latinos. Eastern and the community showing unity for a common goal (immigration reform).”