- The Washington Times - Monday, May 8, 2006

Carlos Castro of Woodbridge, Va., said he does not support the planned May 19 “March on Washington” because, he says, such protests are not helping the immigrant community.

“It’s putting undue pressure on our legislators and I think it’s going to work the opposite way,” said Mr. Castro, 51, a prominent business owner who came to the United States in 1980 from El Salvador. “Instead of sympathy and help, we’re going to start creating some antagonism and friction that is unnecessary at this time.”

Since March, hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens and their supporters have held protests nationwide and organized a boycott of work, school and commerce in hopes of pressuring Congress into crafting legislation that would create a path to citizenship.

Mr. Castro and other legal immigrants, as well as U.S.-born Hispanics, said the rallies are brewing a negative image that creates a backlash against foreign-born or ethnic-looking persons.

Others said illegal aliens are mocking the laws they broke when they entered the United States and are flaunting the defiance in the faces of Americans and those who had to endure the long legal process to enter the country and pursue citizenship.

Al Rodriguez, a man of Mexican descent who was born in Arizona, called the rallies “a slap in the face.”

“[The boycott] was very positive for us who are against illegal aliens and very negative for those who are for amnesty,” the retired Army colonel said. “They come here and work illegally and then they turn around and bite the hand that’s giving them a job and paying them by boycotting. … Pro-illegal groups are trying to say just because we’re American Hispanics, we’re with them. They’re idiots if they think that.”

His son Daniel, a retired Army civilian employee, said he sees the illegal alien protesters as “blackmailers.”

“They don’t have rights,” said Daniel Rodriguez, 56, of Fairfax. “I think the simple solution is if they want to be here, they should apply for visas and come here legally.”

Some immigration advocates said it’s easy for legal immigrants and U.S.-born Hispanics to criticize the rallies because they are less likely to have endured war or poverty.

“We know that some racist groups are against us [but] we know from polls that [most] of the American community is in favor of the legislation we’re asking for,” said Raul Murillo, director of the California-based National Mexican Brotherhood, one of the organizers of the May 1 boycott.

Mr. Castro, a former technician who crossed the U.S. border illegally in search of work and freedom, said he can sympathize with the illegal aliens who marched and participated in the boycott, but he said enough is enough.

“If we continue to have marches just for the sake of having more marches and applying pressure, I think we risk the possibility of not being taken seriously,” he said.

Mr. Castro, now a U.S. citizen, is the founder and owner of Todos Supermarket, a Woodbridge-based grocery chain.

“If the legislators are in good faith trying to come up with an answer and we keep applying undue pressure, they may become disgusted and discouraged,” he said.

Daniel Cortez, an activist whose uncle started a radio station that later became Univision, said he will attend the rally to promote assimilation and downplay the “reconquista” attitudes of some younger illegal aliens, who seek to take back the land and desecrate the American flag.

“We have to recognize that America has abused our immigrants [and] I want these legislators to atone for their violations of the past,” said Mr. Cortez, 54. “But at the same time I’m going to tell my own people that you’ve got to learn English … and promote assimilation, the American flag and wanting to become American citizens.”

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