Biloxi Restaurant Joins Immigrant Boycott

Hundreds of thousands of United States immigrants took the day off work Monday. In major cities like Philadelphia, crowds were so large that aerial views were the only way to see how many joined the protests.

A boycott called "Day Without Immigrants" is designed to show Washington lawmakers considering drastic immigration reform the economic contribution of foreign labor, both legal and illegal.

South Mississippi real estate agent and Venezuelan native Felix Key says he doesn't support the boycott.

"It is unfair to me," said Felix Key. "Unfair to so many people who are applying for Visas to come to the United States."

"They have a need to work, but I believe that breaking the law is not the right way. I believe the marching is against the United States of America, the country where they want to live legally."

On Monday, employees of El Rancho restaurant in Biloxi delivered some disappointing news to hungry Mexican food lovers.

"People are coming here and we have to tell them we are closed," said employee Ronie Jesus. "I've never seen this placed closed before."

Co-owner Enrique Vanegas was out-of-town Monday, but told WLOX News by phone that he closed his restaurant to protest unfair immigration policies.Vanegas says the U.S. has one set of rules for people from one country, and a different set for those from another.

El Rancho employees say a closed restaurant means smaller paychecks, but they support their boss' decision 100 percent. Crossing the border illegally may be against the law, but they say all people have the right to work and feed their families.

"I think he's doing something really right because we have to get together if we want to help each other," said Roni Jesus. "We are all foreigners here and we work really hard."

Fellow employee Yolanda Johnson sees the unfairness.

"We have a big problem with the hurricane and who is the people that come to work and help? The Mexican people. And look they're giving you a hard time. That is wrong. That's the reason we have to be united with the Spanish people, with foreign people."

Felix Key had to get a Canadian visa and live in that country several years before he could move to the United States as a permanent resident. He became a U. S citizen in 1982. He is determined to follow his adopted country's rules on immigration, no matter how long it takes.

"I applied for a Visa for my sister about five years ago," he said. "But they have to wait eight or ten years before they get a Visa. We're waiting. I don't tell her to come over here and stay here illegally. I think that's wrong."

As for El Rancho, the restaurant will be back open for business tomorrow.