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Local businesses close for 'Day Without Immigrants'

Medford, Ore. - Many businesses in the Rogue Valley did not open at all on Thursday in support of their immigrant workers and to show just how valuable they are to the local economy.

"We want to show how important [the Hispanic community is] in this country," Margarita Castillo, owner of El Gallo Mexican Supermarket, said.

Castillo came to the United States illegally 35 years ago. Since then, she and her brother became legalized citizens during the Reagan Administration and created the El Gallo Mexican Supermarket and other local businesses.

"Many people said that we came to this country to take other people's jobs," Castillo said. "We do our best. We're hard, hard workers and we're dreamers."

Castillo believes she has achieved her dreams - she works hard, owns a business and her kids went to college. On Thursday, Castillo's businesses did not open. She says all her workers agreed with her and took the day off. She said it might affect her sales and business, but think it will be for a good reason in the future.

Not everyone agrees with businesses closing for the Day Without Immigrants protest.

"Does that mean they have people with illegal presence working there?" Rep. Sal Esquivel (R-Medford) said. "Why haven't their employers sponsored them and why haven't they gone about the proper, legal way to become a citizen of the United States instead of just living here?"

Castillo says, as far as she knows, all her workers are legal.

Fry Family Farm's owner Steve Fry says his workers are immigrants. For those who stay on with him long term, he helps sponsor their legalization process.

"These people need a life," Fry said. "We can afford that here. We make their life happy here; they make our life happy here."

Fry posed a question to those who disagree with protests.

"If someone comes to work for you, and they're quiet, they have fun all day, they can work a 12 hour day, work harder than you can, and do a better job than you, why would you question anything else about them?" Fry asked.

When News 10 reached out to people who said they disagreed with the Day Without Immigrants, they all declined to do an interview. On social media, people argued immigration reform is about people being here illegally, not directed at all immigrants.

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