- The Washington Times - Monday, May 1, 2006

[1:55 p.m.]

HOMESTEAD, Fla. (AP) - Illegal immigrants and their allies gathered today for marches, prayers and demonstrations on a planned national day of economic protest, 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 city of Homestead, home to one Florida’s largest Mexican immigrant populations and many major growers of fruits, vegetables and nursery plants.

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

Grassroots organizers are protesting stricter immigration laws that are being debated in Congress, and they hope Monday’s events will raise awareness about immigrants’ economic power.

In Carmel, Ind., Jeff Salsbery said about 25 Hispanic workers skipped work at Monday at his landscaping company.

“I’m not very happy this morning,” Mr. Salsbery said. “We’re basically shut down in our busiest month of the year. It’s going to cost me thousands of dollars today.”

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