Hispanic immigrants to boycott work, stores

Today’s the day that activists and immigration interest groups hope Hispanic immigrants, legal and illegal, will boycott work and shopping to show the ethnic group’s importance to the national economy.

While the effect could be widely felt in California and other parts of the nation, it might be harder to spot in Snohomish County.

In Monroe, one Hispanic restaurant owner planned to close in a show of support, but others said they would go to work as usual.

Donna Thompson, a labor economist with the Employment Security Department, said U.S. Census figures from 2000 reported that the county’s work force included 12,474 people of Hispanic origin. That was just shy of 4 percent of the total work force.

Overall, the census reported 28,590 residents of Hispanic origin countywide, 4.7 percent of Snohomish County’s population.

A spot survey of some of the area’s largest employers, including Verizon in Everett and the Boeing Co., found they weren’t expecting much or any effect from today’s boycott.

But Boeing “supports our employees right to participate in legal activities,” said spokesman Bob Jorgensen said, adding that workers who do take part will have to use a vacation day.

So far, few workers have approached their supervisors to request the day off, he said.

Today’s scheduled boycott is timed to exert influence on lawmakers in Washington, D.C., who are debating a number of approaches to curbing illegal immigration, particularly from Mexico. Nationally, however, Hispanic interest groups have debated the wisdom and effectiveness of having workers skip jobs and students leave school for the day, fearing a backlash in opinion and support.

Herald reporter Bryan Corliss contributed to this story.

Reporter Eric Fetters: 425-339-3453 or fetters@heraldnet.com.

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