Few immigrants in Hawaii take part in boycott
While hundreds of thousands of immigrants, mostly Hispanic, skipped work yesterday and took to the streets of mainland cities to protest strict immigration reforms, only handfuls in Honolulu joined the national day of boycott.
"Basically, this is the power of one voice," said Daniel Dabila as he stood outside the state Capitol yesterday with less than a hundred other protesters. "I am a Latino-American citizen, and there is no large club of us here."
Dabila said that other immigrants -- Chinese, Filipinos and Koreans -- also showed up at the Capitol to protest the proposed reforms that would make illegal aliens felons. He said a small, mostly Latino network organized the protest.
"The majority of the people who protested here are already citizens. The others were too afraid to come out," he said. "In Hawaii there is no place to run, and people are afraid they will be arrested and deported to the country they sought to escape."
But in Hawaii, where industries rely heavily on immigrant workers, there were no slowdowns. Teri Gorman, director of Maui Land & Pineapple, said of the company's immigrant agricultural work force, "Nobody stayed home today."
"We have a fairly large immigrant work force which is mostly from Micronesia and the Philippines. Most of the focus on the mainland has been among Hispanic groups," Gorman said. "But if people had stayed home, we would have supported them."
Lawrence Boyd, an economist with the Center for Labor Education and Research at the University of Hawaii-West Oahu, said the boycott seemed to be largely organized through the use of Spanish radio networks in big cities.
"This was a grass-roots, spontaneous thing that relied heavily on the Spanish-language radio networks who were allied with students. We don't really have much here in the way of alternative language radio stations so there was no such method of organizing," Boyd said.