Sue Erickson and Kevin McCarthy spent Monday morning walking down State Street in Belvidere, but for the most part all they could do was window shop. A large majority of the Hispanic-owned stores were closed. Signs explained why.
“Esta tienda estara cerrada el lunes.” This store will be closed Monday because of the boycott against HR 4437.
"I think it's warranted. I think they're trying to have themselves heard," says Erickson.
It's a sight typically reserved for Christmas day, but a nationwide economic protest urged people to boycott work, school and shopping to demand rights for an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants.
"I support them. My parents were immigrants, they came to this country and they made their life, and I have respect for them coming to America and being open on Sunday, when Americans are now closing their doors and choosing not to work," says McCarthy.
In December, the House of Representatives passed HR 4437, a bill that would make illegal immigrants felons. It would also wall off 700 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border.
The bill has stalled in the Senate.
Belvidere Schools Superintendent Dr. Don Schlomann says there were between 450 and 500 absences from Belvidere schools Monday. Typically, there's between 150 and 200. Dr. Schlomann says anytime students lose days of instruction it concerns him, but he says in situations such as this one he understands that parents need to make individual choices.