Some small businesses were closed in the city Monday and day laborers shunned the suburban shape-up sites where they usually gather as New Yorkers took part in a national day of protest by illegal immigrants and their allies.
Protesters formed human chains throughout New York City’s five boroughs to protest a bill that would make it a felony to be in the country illegally.
Several thousand people rallied in Jackson Heights, Queens, with the crowd meandering down 37th Avenue from 72nd Street up past 80th.
At one point, police closed parts of 37th Avenue to traffic to accommodate the protesters.
Luperio Naranjo, 26, said his boss wasn’t happy that he took the day off from his construction job to participate.
"He is not happy," said Naranjo, an illegal immigrant who came from Ecuador when he was 14. "We’re going tomorrow, not today. We have to be together today."
Naranjo said about 30 workers from his company attended rallies around the city, however, he was not concerned about being fired.
"No matter what the bosses say, they need us."
Karla Dillatoro, a legal resident alien, wore a white cloth sign emblazoned with a quarter, rosary beads and a message: "In God We Trust, Can We Trust You Now?"
"We are happy to have the green card, but the other people have to work and work and work and now they’re criminals," said Dillatoro, who came from El Salvador and lives in East Elmhurst.
Politicians also took part in the rally. Congressman Joseph Crowley (D-Queens) made his way through the crowd, shaking hands and waving.
"I think it was important to show simpatico with immigrants and non-immigrants alike who want to see true comprehensive immigration reform passed in Washington and not just a security bill," said Crowley.
In Manhattan, A few shops were shuttered along bustling 14th Street, including a Spanish-language bookstore and a tiny restaurant selling Cuban sandwiches and other Latin American fare.
Miriam Chaikin pulled on the door several times before noticing the sign that said "Closed Monday May 1" in English and Spanish.
"I was hoping to get beans and rice and plantains," she said.
"The country needs immigrants," Chaikin added. "I think I would like them all to speak English and sing the national anthem in English the way my parents did, but we’re a nation of immigrants."