An immigrant advocacy group asked Hispanics to boycott businesses and to stay home from work yesterday to protest legislation by Arizona lawmakers targeting illegal aliens, and said it was a trial run for a full-scale, three-day economic protest planned for July.
“This is a test so people can see and feel the power we have and the actual stranglehold we have on the economy of this state,” Elias Bermudez, executive director of Centro de Ayuda, an immigrant advocacy group in Phoenix, told reporters this week.
“We contribute to the greatness of this state and we should not be pushed around like we are.”
Although advertised extensively on Spanish-language radio and television stations, most community and civic leaders agreed that yesterday’s boycott was a failure because many potential participants could not afford to lose a workday or business income.
But the real effort will take place in July, organizers said, when Hispanics in Phoenix and Tucson will be asked again to boycott businesses and stores and to stay home from work.
The July boycott was called to protest laws that restrict the use of the Mexican matricula, or identification card; require illegal aliens to pay out-of-state college tuition; deny access to literacy programs to illegals; adopt English as Arizona’s official state language; and mandate that state funds be denied for the construction and operation of a day-workers center.
Many Hispanic activists also remain angry over the passage in November of Proposition 200, which required state and local government employees to verify the immigration status of those seeking public benefits and to report to federal immigration authorities any applicant who is in violation of U.S. law.