Day without immigrants and without El Pasoans
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The day without immigrants brought national attention as a boycott from U.S. citizens was held all day Thursday. Several employers closed their businesses and children throughout the nation did not attend school. Despite these facts, El Paso kept itself relatively out of the national movement.
Ernesto de la Rosa, 45, is a U.S. citizen with Mexican heritage showed support for the protest in El Paso. He works as a driver in K&B Transportation and chose not to go to work on Thursday.
“Unfortunately, in El Paso, it didn’t take much strength. The majority living in El Paso are Hispanic and the majority obviously has papers, but unfortunately they don’t take much into account these types of events or protests because they are not affected to a certain point,” De La Rosa said. “In my case it affects me because I have relatives that live in the U.S. and they do not have a favorable legal situation.”
De La Rosa also said to have heard about certain employers that did not granted permission for their workers to miss the day in support for the cause. According to the 45-year-old driver, the employer threatened to dismiss employers if they did not show up to work on Thursday.
“I talked to my employer about the whole situation and he just said ‘God help them, let’s see what happens.’ Just like that. With his tone of disinterest,” De La Rosa. “I took the decision to join the cause and not going to work. They even gave me work to do and I told them I wouldn’t go out. They told me it was okay and that I should report tomorrow and I did.”
Director of the Center for Intern American and Border Studies and professor of anthropology at UTEP, Josiah Heyman, offered his explanation to why the protest did not have a massive response at the border town.
“El Paso has a pattern of not having large turnouts for events. The only wheel mobilization that gets people out in the kind of decent turnout is the border network for human rights,” Heyman said. “I think it’s possible that it just went beyond the capacity of that organization of turning people out.”
Dominic Chacon, member of the Young Democratic Socialists Party at UTEP, said to have received word of the boycott two days in advance, but that the student party did not have time to organize properly due a New York conference of the YDSP chapters throughout the U.S. campuses.
“We kind of really didn’t know about it and what we just find out about it, we didn’t have much time to organize. But we are trying to figure out how we can get in the loop so that something like this doesn’t happen again,” Chacon said. “We are trying to get informed about marches and protests in advance so that we can get the word out.”
According to Chacon, the purpose of the NYC conference is to inform each chapter of what is happening at the campuses, what works with each campus and tips to help mobilize people and how to communicate effectively with large masses.
Heyman also said it is necessary to be active. According to him, if the community participates, it makes for a better community; if we don’t do things, we don’t have a better community.
“These things happen fairly quickly, I don’t think that there was a lot of preparation to get people out, but I think that what is going to matter more is people coming out when they are raged and arrest. I think it’s important to have the community respond when there are rage and arrest,” Heyman said.
De La Rosa said to support immigrants and that he will continue to support them because it is an indispensable community in this country.
“Even if I have a legal status in this country, if my children are U.S. citizens and my wife is a resident and mi parents are now legal residents, I’ll keep supporting the cause in the measure of my possibilities,” De La Rosa said. “If I have to march, I’ll march. If I have to miss work again, I’ll do it. Somehow we have to make us feel in this country that gave us the opportunity to live.”
Chacon wants his fellow supporters to continue to stand by their ideals and morals.
“We don’t really know who started it, but someone started it. It wasn’t part of some national organization or a political party, it was just people. That is very inspiring because you see the people taking initiative for themselves,” Chacon said. ”Sometimes people think somebody will do it, somebody will organize it somebody is going to let me know about it, but unless somebody does it, it’s not going to happen.”