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Some pay price after rallying for immigrants

CHICAGO -- Six employees at a seafood restaurant in Houston were fired this week after skipping work to take part in a proimmigration march. In Detroit, 21 immigrants lost their jobs as meat cutters after attending a similar protest last month.

And several students at a high school near Tampa were suspended this week for walking out of class to go to a demonstration.

Across the country, workers and students have paid a price for attending the immigration rallies that have recently swept the nation. They have lost jobs or been cited for truancy for joining the hundreds of thousands who have protested proposed federal legislation that would crack down on illegal immigrants.

Now, some rally organizers are telling people not to risk their jobs or education to attend the rallies.

''This is a concern because this is a demographic of people who have historically not come out into the streets to raise an issue," said Germonique Jones, a spokeswoman for the Washington-based Center for Community Change, an umbrella group behind the rallies. ''Obviously businesses have to be run, and it's only right for people to tell their employers that they will be out beforehand. . . . We don't want people losing their jobs."

In some cases, fired workers have been offered their jobs back after advocacy groups have gotten involved, including the 21 Detroit meatpacking company workers. The company said yesterday that it would rehire them, but only if the staffing company they were hired through can confirm they are legal immigrants.

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