In what is being called "A day without immigrants," activists are calling for immigrants to stay home from their jobs and classrooms on Monday May 1st to demonstrate their labor's impact on the US economy. Many immigrants, while supporting the movement, are conflicted in whether or not to participate in the event.
While the political debate in Congress continues, immigrants who can't vote have found other ways to voice themselves. Recently, there have been over 150 protests throughout the nation to support legalization.
Twenty-five year old Julio Zamora, who goes to school part-time and works in the Bay Area, supports the boycott. "If you look at the laws and wording politicians use, a lot of them are anti-immigrant, and more specifically anti-Mexican," he said.
Zamora and some of his co-workers have written a letter to their managers asking for permission in advance to participate in the boycott.
"We don't want to be fired like so many people across the nation have," said Zamora. "If the managers give us permission we will not go to work, school or shop and if there is a protest we will join."
Although not in opposition to this message, many immigrants will not be joining the boycott for various reasons. Pedro Prado came to the U.S from El Salvador eight years ago and has a wife and three kids awaiting his return. He supports immigrant rights, but is not in support of the May 1st boycott.
"The majority of the people come here to work, not to hurt the economy," said Prado. "But I do support the protest and a decent law for immigrants."
Although he has a work permit, it has to be renewed every year and is not permanent. Over 90,000 immigrants from select countries are registered for this same temporary permit, according to the Federal Register Notice.
"I think there are going to be a lot of people who will join the boycott," Zamora said. "It will serve as a strong message to the government."
Angela Gonzalez, who applied for legal status ten years ago and has been waiting since then for proper documentiation, can not join in the boycott even though she supports it. "I can't participate in the boycott," said Gonzalez. "I have to work and can't miss a day."
Gonzalez says she moved to the U.S. from Mexico when Americans offered her work as a live-in nanny. "In Mexico, I didn't see a future I wanted for myself."
Gonzalez is one of the estimated 11 million Latinos living in the U.S without proper documentation, and an estimated half are from Mexico. Their legal status is pending a reform that provides legal status to undocumented immigrants.
After a meeting with a panel of immigrant activists, the Washington Post said that "the panelists stressed that they were not discouraging others from boycotting. But later they said that they do not support the boycott because it could result in people being fired, cause students to miss school and create a climate of disgust that could lead to a backlash by Americans who are not immigrants."
"By not doing anything we are going to be doing something," said Zamora.
Meeting points for San Francisco boycotts are Montgomery & Market BART at 8:30 a.m., at the Embarcadero BART at 11 a.m. and at SF Civic Center BART at 3pm and 5:00pm at the Federal Building at 450 Golden Gate. Organizers are encouraging people to wear white and to bring energy and creativity.