IMMIGRATION RALLY SET FOR MONDAY IN TAMPA By Mitch E. Perry

04/28/06

Pro-immigration activists say a nationwide boycott and marches planned for next Monday will flood America’s s streets with millions of Latinos to demand amnesty for illegal immigrants and shake the ground under Congress as it tackles reform.

But there has also been widespread rumors of random raids on undocumented immigrants in the past week, leading to a climate of fear in certain parts of Florida and in other areas of the country.

Maria Rodriguez is with the Florida Immigrant Coalition. She admits to having nothing specific to indicate such raids, but says that anecodatal evidence has been strong that such raids are happening (roll tape#1 o.q.�450 there�)

The rising panic is clearly fallout from last week’s high profile crack down by Homeland Security on IFCO Systems North America, a supplier of wooden pallets and crates across the country. Over 1100 illegal immigrants were arrested, including 38 in Polk County.

Blanca Gonzalez is with Immigrants United for Freedom in Plant City (roll tape#2 o.q.�Miami area )

Barbara Gonzalez is with the Miami office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Miami (roll tape#3 o.q. “and intelligence�)

Whether fact or fiction such fears of large scale raids have become so widespread in South Florida that the Mexican Consult General in Miami called the Miami Herald Thursday to “express concerns by the Mexican government�.

But in many cases, the panic has been from rumors, and not actual raids.

The Wall Street Journal reported today that after hundreds of no-shows for medical appointments throughout Contra Costa County in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Chief health official sought to reassure patients by circulating a letter saying that visiting a clinic would not endanger them.

The rumors come just days before the next set of pro-immigrant rallies are scheduled throughout the country.

But as to whether they’ll be bigger than the ones 3 weeks ago will be interested to observe.

Palmetto Attorney Jimmy Delgado is one of the leaders of the ad hoc group, The Mexican Council of Florida. He was strongly supportive of the April 10th rallies, but says that originally May 1st – and even the entire first week of May – was considered NOT for a rally, but for a boycott of businesses by undocumented immigrants, to show their economic power. He is NOT encouraging anyone to take Monday off (roll tape# Just to say home�)

Maria Rodriguez with the Florida Coalition says she knows there are varying feelings on the issue, but she’s confident that Monday’s rallies will rival previous ones this spring in terms of size and impact (roll tape#5 o.q.’as leaders�)

Businesses with largely immigrant workforces are preparing for Monday in different ways…..USA Today reports that Cargill, the country’s 2nd biggest beef producer, is closing 7 meat processing plants with 14,000 employees in Iowa, Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, Illinois and Colorado.

But other employers say they can’t afford to shut down for the day.

On Thursday, in its lead editorial, The Tampa Tribune wrote that a ‘walkout would hurt their emloyers and dock their paychecks. Worse, it could impede the efforts of friendly Washington lawmakers who want to create path to citizenship for some of the 12 million illegal immigrants working in this country.

But farmworker advocate Margarita Romo say that those who have become citizens from other countries SHOULD march in support of those undocumented now (roll tape# for them�)

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Organizers for the rally in Tampa at Dale Mabry and Columbus say that they have enough money to pay for insurance – but are having trouble finding a carrier…..They also say that, unlike the previous rally, they will charge $5 per car for those parking in the lot adjoining Raymond James Stadium on Monday.

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