(May 4) TAMPA, Fla. — Thousands of legal and illegal immigrants rallied in cities across the U.S. on May 1 to protest government enforcement of immigration laws.

The Day Without an Immigrant rallies tried to call attention to the role immigrant workers play in the U.S. economy.

Immigrants and their supporters marched and demonstrated in rallies from New York to Los Angeles and Seattle to Miami during the May Day event. Rallies were also in Fresno, Calif., and Salinas, Calif.

Frustrated by the pace of immigration reform in Washington, D.C., protesters also demanded rights for undocumented workers.

They carried signs reading, “We are not illegal, we’re here to work,” and “Stop the raids.”

Many decided to not show up for work and instead joined the protests, which also took place in Tampa.

Up to 300 protestors showed up in Tampa in front of a sports stadium along a busy city thoroughfare.

They held American and Mexican flags and signs that read: “Support Immigration Reform” and “Unite Families: Comprehensive Immigration Reform Now.”

Rally organizer Blanca Gonzalez, a Plant City co-founder of Immigrants United for Freedom, said the rally was designed to let Congress know that workers want fair policies for former and current immigrants.

She said missing a day of work isn’t as important as fighting for their cause.

”This is more important to them than if they lose a day of work,” Gonzalez said.

While many of the workers who protested in Tampa came from construction, hotel and education jobs, up to three-fourths of them work in agriculture, Gonzalez said. She said some traveled from Homestead to the Tampa event.

This year’s rallies attracted far fewer participants compared to last year’s protests.

Last year, up to 13,000 participants marched in Salinas, and 7,000 rallied in Tampa. About 1 million showed up at last year’s marches.

According to media reports, several thousand people were involved in the Salinas rally, but fewer than 100 showed up in Fresno.

The larger rallies occurred in Chicago, Denver and Phoenix.

Immigrants vent concerns at May 1 rallies
Legal and illegal immigrants demonstrate in Tampa, Fla., on May 1, demanding rights for undocumented workers.