READING, Pa. - More than 100 Latino-owned businesses in Reading shut their doors and hundreds of workers marched in the streets to mark "May Day," or International Workers Day, on Monday.
"Today, we are sending a clear, loud message that the immigrant community in Berks will not accept these attacks," said Adanjesus Marin, the director of Make the Road Pennsylvania.
More than 120 businesses in Reading closed for the day in solidarity with the May Day protests, and more than 500 immigrant workers vowed to stay home from work. Mi Casa Su Casa is among those closed.
"People who know me and know my business know that I care, I have a big heart and I always stand up for what I believe to be right," said Johanny Cepeda-Freytiz, owner of Mi Casa Su Casa.
Hundreds marched downtown.
"Workers here in Reading have been deported in the middle of the night, so there's a level of fear," said Bruce Osterhaut, pastor of Zion Lutheran Church in Shoemakersville.
Police halted the march for awhile, but soon escorted the peaceful protesters to their destination -- the Berks County Services Center.
They gathered on the steps to stand against a controversial program, 287g, which would let the sheriff's office partner with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The county commissioners work in the services center. They'd have the final say on bringing the program to Berks.
"287g is a rule that the sheriff wants to implement that would give the department the right to racially profile and stop and request documentation from anyone that looks like they might not be a citizen," said Marin.
County Commissioner Christian Leinbach said if this program is implemented in Berks, there will be no racial profiling.
"They think that if we say yes, that we're for people knocking on doors and asking for their papers, and I have spoken out against that," said Leinbach.
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