By Tonya Garner: CNJ staff writer
Hundreds of local residents showed support Monday for “the Great May 1 Boycott” or “A Day Without an Immigrant.”
As part of a nationwide campaign, immigrant supporters were hoping to prove immigrants play a large role in the workforce. The impact on local businesses was not clear as most reported business as usual.
Andrea Armendariz, who is employed by Sunland Peanuts in Portales, said her employer gave her the day off. Armendariz coordinated a Clovis parade, which snaked its way through downtown on Monday morning in support of immigrant rights.
“Today is also a national holiday in Mexico,” Armendariz said, “so we are taking the day off.” She said May 1 is Mexico’s equivalent of Labor Day.
Clovis’ parade participants were largely females and children.
Armendariz said many local Hispanic-owned businesses, including Blanca’s and the Tortilla Factory, were closed in honor of the day.
Phone calls to both businesses went unanswered Monday afternoon.
Ron Carr, publisher of the Friona Star newspaper, said Excel’s beef-packing operation closed its killing floor on Monday so that employees could participate in rallies for immigrant support. He said plant employees worked extra shifts over the weekend to allow for Monday’s time off.
Maria Nanez of Portales was among those who took a day off from work to participate in Clovis’ immigrant support rally. “There are a lot of Hispanics working in the fields and dairies,” Nanez said, “and if they (immigrants) weren’t here, then who would do it?”
Local dairy owner Albin Smith said his business is primarily staffed by Hispanic workers. Smith said none of his employees approached him to request time off and business proceeded as usual.
Michelle Heavyside, president of United Dairy Women, said she was glad to hear area dairies were not adversely affected by the day.
“Cows are like kids — they have to be taken care of,” Heavyside said.
Clovis resident and U.S. citizen Mary Gonzales said immigrants contribute greatly to the gross receipts of Curry County. “They (government) say immigrants don’t pay taxes,” Gonzales said, “but immigrants buy school supplies and clothes just like everyone else.”
Many of the parade participants brought their children along to the march.
Yucca Junior High School seventh-grader Kaylee Gonzales said she was one of many who planned to march instead of attend school Monday.
Alan Dropps, the school’s principal, said parade participants would be granted an excused absence if their parents called first. “I really haven’t noticed an increase in absences though,” he said.