Ro­mans join US protests

A num­ber of Latino busi­nesses close for the day, and a down­town rally draws about 40 to mark A Day With­out Im­mi­grants.

Rome News-Tribune - - FRONT PAGE - From staff, AP re­ports

The call went out on so­cial me­dia Thurs­day after­noon and about 40 Rome res­i­dents an­swered.

The hastily as­sem­bled group gath­ered on Broad Street at Sec­ond Av­enue, wav­ing signs and the U.S. flag, to join protests across the na­tion called A Day With­out Im­mi­grants.

“We were talk­ing about go­ing down to At­lanta, but then we de­cided we should do this where we live,” said Alex­i­sis Her­nan­dez.

With­out a per­mit, they couldn’t stay on the cor- ner, so they marched down Broad to City Hall — “We’re just out walk­ing,” said Cris­tian Cava­soz, with a smile. Chant­ing slo­gans such as “No hate, no fear, im­mi­grants are wel­come here,” and “Love, not hate. Make Amer­ica great,” the group gar­nered honks of sup­port from some pass­ing driv­ers.

Im­mi­grants around the U.S. stayed home from work and school Thurs­day to demon­strate how im­por­tant they are to Amer­ica’s econ­omy and its way of life, and many busi­nesses closed in sol­i­dar­ity.

The boy­cott was aimed squarely at Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s ef­forts to step up de­por­ta­tions,

build a wall at the Mex­i­can bor­der and close the na­tion’s doors to many trav­el­ers.

In Rome the ma­jor­ity of Broad Street marchers were His­panic, but about a third of them were white or other peo­ple of color. Mike Jenk­ins and his wife, Ch­eryl Jenk­ins, came out as mem­bers of One Com­mu­nity United.

“We’re here show­ing sup­port for our Latino friends,” he said.

Cava­soz said many im­mi­grants with­out pa­pers do jobs U.S. cit­i­zens re­ject, yet they’re be­ing rounded up and de­ported. Her­nan­dez ex­pressed anger at Im­mi­gra­tion and

Cus­toms En­force­ment sweeps tar­get­ing spouses and par­ents of U.S. cit­i­zens.

“They’re tear­ing fam­i­lies apart,” she said, and added a vow of con­tin­ued ac­tivism. “This (march) is just the first step.”

A num­ber of Latino gro­ceries and restau­rants in Rome also closed in sol­i­dar­ity, and taxi ser­vices parked their ve­hi­cles in front of La Mex­i­cana Su­per­mar­ket on Shorter Av­enue in a show of sup­port. They would not hit the road again un­til mid­night, said Fran­cisco de la Cruz, owner of Rome Taxi.

De la Cruz, who is a per­ma­nent le­gal res­i­dent, said he’s not aware of any ICE roundups in Rome so far, but they want their voices to be heard be­fore they start.

“We’re not protest­ing Pres­i­dent Trump or the govern­ment,” he said. “We’re ask­ing him to help fa­thers and moth­ers get le­gal doc­u­ments.”

De la Cruz said they ap­prove of the de­por­ta­tion of im­mi­grants who com­mit felonies be­cause “every­body pays” when there are drugs and crimes in their com­mu­nity.

But he also said every­one gains when there are im­mi­grants with jobs, pay­ing taxes and con­tribut­ing to the lo­cal econ­omy.

“We take peo­ple to work, we take peo­ple to their doc­tors. We work hard 24 hours a day to serve the peo­ple in Rome,” he said.

De la Cruz said he’s also a bail bonds­man, and the bind il­le­gal im­mi­grants are caught in is typ­i­fied by those ar­rested for driv­ing with­out a li­cense.

“I ask why they did it and they say, ‘I have chil­dren. I have a wife. I need to bring food home. I need to pay my rent,’” he said.

Since the end of 2007, the num­ber of for­eign­born work­ers em­ployed in the U.S. has climbed by nearly 3.1 mil­lion to 25.9 mil­lion; they ac­count for 56 per­cent of the in­crease in U.S. em­ploy­ment over that pe­riod, ac­cord­ing to the La­bor De­part­ment.

The for­eign-born — who in­clude Amer­i­can cit­i­zens, green-card hold­ers and those work­ing with­out le­gal au­tho­riza­tion — tend to be younger and to take jobs in fields that have been grow­ing fastest, in­clud­ing restau­rants, ho­tels and stores.

Many peo­ple who skipped work will lose a day’s pay or worse, and many stu­dent ab­sences will not be ex­cused. But or­ga­niz­ers ar­gued that the cause is worth the sac­ri­fice.

Carmen Solis, a Mex­ico-born U.S. cit­i­zen, took the day off from work as a project man­ager and brought her two chil­dren to a rally in Chicago.

“I feel like our com­mu­nity is go­ing to be racially pro­filed and ha­rassed,” she said of Trump’s im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies. “It’s very up­set­ting. Peo­ple like to take out their anger on the im­mi­grants, but em­ploy­ers are mak­ing prof­its off of them.”

Diane Wagner / Rome News-Tri­bune

Chant­ing “No hate, no fear, im­mi­grants are wel­come here,” a group of Rome res­i­dents hastily as­sem­bled through so­cial me­dia march down Broad Street on Thurs­day as part of a na­tion­wide protest against stepped-up en­force­ment.

Diane Wagner / Rome News-Tri­bune

Fran­cisco de la Cruz, owner of Rome Taxi, stands in front of the closed La Mex­i­cana on Shorter Av­enue with an ar­ray of cabs from var­i­ous com­pa­nies on Thurs­day, the na­tion­wide “Day With­out Im­mi­grants” protest aimed at high­light­ing im­mi­grants’ con­tri­bu­tions to the lo­cal econ­omy.

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