Hispanic Americans Marched for Equality

Hundreds of Hispanics and immigration supporters gathered at Morris Frank Park in Lufkin early Monday morning. They set out to show Americans, lawmakers, and immigration opponents what this country would be like if immigrants were not allowed to come here.

Jorge Frire organized the rally. He said, "We are going to send a letter with our point of view to the Senate of the United States and the main part of the letter is a poem to welcome all immigrants in the United States."

Many non-Hispanic East Texans were in favor of the protest and some even joined in to show their support.

"Our country was built by immigrants and I think that's still the case today, and so my family and I are in support of amnesty and also hate the new ideas that are in Congress about making illegal immigration a federal offense," said Emily Goodwin.

Some of the protestors missed work and school to march, but they are calling it a day on, not a day off.

Lufkin student, Catalina Avila, said, "They can understand why we are here - why Mexicans are important in the United States."

The group marched for several miles and ended up in front of Pilgrim's Pride. City leaders said the Lufkin plant filled Monday's orders over the weekend so it could shut down for the day and make sure employees wouldn't have to miss work.

'A Day Without Immigrants' also included a business boycott. Many Hispanics vowed not to spend any money at American companies Monday to prove how important they are to the U.S. economy.

Several businesses closed in anticipation of Monday's rally. It's still unclear how much economic impact the boycott will have on Lufkin. City leaders said they won't know the impact until July. That's when the sales tax report will reflect May sales.

El Taurino remained open, but the restaurant gave several employees the day off in support of 'A Day Without Immigrants'. Hostess Autumn Thompson said, "It's pretty slow. Everybody's doing the little march and normally business [would] be picked up. We've just got two tables [with customers instead of the usual crowd]."

Many Hispanics who did not rally lined the streets in front of area businesses waiting for the protestors to pass by. They waived Mexican and American flags and even handed out cold drinks to the marchers.

Lufkin was also the site of a small counter rally Monday. Those marchers followed the protest and carried signs supporting the country's immigration policies. They said they are not racist, but oppose illegal immigration. They're also against amnesty for anyone who has crossed the border illegally.

One marcher said, "As far as a boycott goes, I think that's a bad idea for them because I believe that in the end, that's only hurting a lot of people that support them. A lot of the businesses support them, so by boycotting them, I think they're making the wrong statement."

Some of those taking part in the counter rally said they were videotaped and yelled at by some of the Hispanic marchers.