More than 1 million mostly Hispanic immigrants and their supporters skipped work and took to the streets, flexing their economic muscle in a US-wide boycott that succeeded in slowing or shutting many farms, factories, markets and restaurants.
From Los Angeles to Chicago, Houston to Miami, the "Day Without Immigrants" attracted widespread participation on Monday despite divisions among activists over whether a boycott would send the right message to Washington lawmakers considering sweeping immigration reform.
"This country needs us. We are the strong arms that do all the tough jobs," said Donna Maria Mostache, a 43-year-old cook and illegal immigrant who marched in Los Angeles. "We can't be afraid to come out and say who we are."
The boycott was organized by immigrant activists angered by federal legislation that would criminalize the nation's estimated 11 million illegal immigrants and fortify the US-Mexico border. Its goal was to raise awareness about immigrants' economic power.
Two major rallies in Los Angeles attracted an estimated 400,000, according to the mayor's office. Police in Chicago estimated 400,000 people marched through the downtown business district.
Tens of thousands more marched in New York, along with up to 30,000 in Houston, 50,000 in San Jose, California, and 30,000 more across Florida.
From New Mexico to Tennessee to Massachusetts, smaller rallies attracted hundreds more. In all, police departments in more than two dozen US cities reported crowd estimates that totaled about 1.1 million marchers.
The mood was jubilant. Marchers standing shoulder-to-shoulder filmed themselves on home video and families sang and chanted and danced in the streets wearing US flags as capes and bandanas.
In most cities, those who rallied wore white to signify peace and solidarity.
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Mexicans boycott US products