Immigrants Fired For Skipping Work To Protest

"He never told us he was going to fire us. He just laughed, and he told me that was for lazy people."

When 22 year old Teresa Curiel heard about Monday's rally in Tyler, she and 21 other employees wanted to go. All of them are undocumented. She says she asked her supervisor at Benchmark Manufacturing for permission on behalf of all the employees last Thursday.

Another employee, Maria Rodriguez said "Another lady said, 'What if they fire us?' And I told her, 'No, they won't fire us. They're only going to give us a sheet to sign, because those are the rules that they told us. That if we didn't let them know we were going to miss work, they'd give us a warning sheet," Rodriguez said.

That's the punishment they were prepared for, but it's not what happened. They say, around 10 o'clock Monday morning, all of them found out they were fired.

Benchmark Manufacturing declined our request for an interview, but they did issue this written statement.

"The employee handbook says employees who are going to be absent, must notify the office by 9 a.m. Otherwise it's considered an unauthorized absence, which is grounds for termination.  This issue is not about going to the rally, it is about following the company policies that govern every employee."

These women say they've never seen that handbook. Otherwise, they may have reconsidered.

"The money that I made helped, because I earned a little, and my husband earned a little, and then we'd make it. But now that I don't have work, I don't know how I am going to help my husband," Rodriguez said.

All of the women have begun looking for other jobs, but they say it is a difficult and sometimes unnerving task, because they don't have papers.

Lindsay Wilcox/Reporting: