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Hispanics Hope to Make Their Absence Felt Boycotting Stores and Work

ATLANTA (AP) - Thousands of immigrants in Georgia were
encouraged to stay away from shops, work and school today as part
of a national economic protest against crackdowns on illegal
immigration. But most in metro Atlanta said they sent their kids to
school, and some were too fearful to risk losing what they sought
in coming to this country -- jobs.

Inside Plaza Fiesta, a Hispanic mall, handwritten signs in
Spanish told the few patrons why all stands were covered up and
stores shuttered -- "in solidarity with our people."

In southern Georgia, some farmers said they had to stop the
harvest because their seasonal workers didn't come to work. But
others said it was business as usual.

Many Latino advocacy groups, including organizers of large April10th march, had warned immigrants in Georgia not to risk their
jobs. A march in Athens is planned for this evening so it won't
interfere with the workday.

A rally at the state Capitol that drew an estimated 45-hundred
protesters.

In northeast Georgia's Hall County, where more than 30 percent
of almost 24-thousand students are Hispanic, officials said there
were 14-hundred and 44 Latino absences today. But that was less
than half the three-thousand absent during a similar protest on
March 24th.

Immigrants say they hope their voice compels Congress to give
those here illegally a path to citizenship and to fight Georgia's
new law that will bar undocumented adults from receiving state
benefits.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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