Immigrant Rally in Memorial Park

Hundreds of people rallied in Memorial Park as part of a nationwide boycott. Many of the protesters skipped school and work today and are also refusing to purchase retail products in an attempt to create an economic impact on the nation. Houston Public Radio's Laurie Johnson has more.

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Activists called it "A Day without an Immigrant" and across the country people left their jobs and schools to demonstrate in support of immigrant rights. Hundreds of people gathered in Memorial Park, although the turnout didn't reach nearly the proportions of demonstrations held early last month. The Houston Rally for Immigration Rights was organized by several grassroots and community organizations, including ACORN. Robin Miner is an organizer with ACORN and says they're getting people to sign petitions to let the federal government know their position on immigration.

"Let them know these people are hard-working people. They have rights too, they just are going through the immigration process so that stops them from voting and doing other things so what we're trying to do is make sure that the government understands that. The people that are here want to be citizens, they're paying their taxes so why can't they have rights?"

No one knows the exact number of people involved in the rallies or even how many of them are undocumented immigrants. Elezar Moreno is a resident alien and has three children who are U.S. citizens. He says he brought his kids out to the rally because he wants people to know this country has the best opportunities for his children.

"Mexico, I mean they got all the opportunities also but it's not -- it's not enough good president like this presidents they have over here. There a lot of good rules and protect is, protect us about violence and stuff like that. And I want to keep him too over here, because I got three boys and keep growing and maybe he might be going to NASA."

But not everyone feels like these rallies are the best way to draw attention to the issue. Nemesis Truth is working on a documentary of Houston life and was at the demonstration to both support and film the efforts. He says he believes in securing the borders and reforming immigration law, but this may not be the way to do it.

"They're not registered to vote so their voice really isn't going to be heard regardless of what they said, so that should be the first thing. Then if they would understand that that's really what American is about is democracy and having a vote then they would realize they need to go about the legal process and become a citizen therefore they can actually have their voice be counted."

It's difficult to say how much impact the demonstrations actually have. The Houston Independent School District reporter higher than usual numbers of absent teachers and students. Among HISD teachers, 13 percent more were absent than on an average Monday. Student absences varied across campuses with some schools reporting normal numbers and others reporting as many 532 students missing from class. Laurie Johnson Houston Public Radio News.

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