The recent immigration rallies held in East Texas has cost you, the taxpayer, thousands of dollars. The issue was at the center of a discussion today between the East Texas Hispanic Ministerial Alliance and local authorities. It's a tradition for the Ministerial Alliance to meet every Cinco de Mayo or May 5th. Some in the Hispanic community are worried the demonstrations may be doing more harm than good.
"The April 10th rally, we estimate cost about $8,500 from the city's side of expense from the personnel that was used. We used about 53 officers to secure the downtown square and on the march," said Tyler Police Department Chief Gary Swindle, who took part in the meeting, held at El Charro Restaurant No. 2.
Chief Swindle says between 4,000 and 5,000 demonstrators took part in that rally held in downtown Tyler. The demonstration was the largest and costliest out of five rallies over immigration that have taken place in East Texas since March.
"Anytime there's a rally or march and we need extra city personnel, it comes out of the general fund from the city," said Tyler Mayor Joey Seeber.
Chief Swindle says fortunately, this has not had a huge impact on the city. "We haven't suffered any setbacks because of our budget or because of these rallies or anything like that," said Chief Swindle.
East Texas Hispanic Ministerial Alliance Vice President Salvador Sanchez gave another view of the rallies, saying they're affecting the participants as well. By taking part in the events, they're missing out on a day's pay. "I mean, they need to pay the bills. Month after month they'll show up and they need to pay them. So, you need to work to pay them and our kids need to go to school in order for us to get the tax money from the state. We need to show that we have interest in school," said Sanchez.
Sanchez says there are other ways for Hispanics to get their message across. "Write letters to our Senators, to our elected officials in government. And if we can send letters and letters, through the computer themselves, that would help a lot," said Sanchez. He says the power of the pen is greater than the demonstrations themselves, advice he hopes Hispanics will consider before staging another event.
TISD officials say 2,000 students were absent from school Monday when the "Day without Immigrants" boycott was held. They say that's compared to 900 the Monday before that. Each absence costs the school system state funding. But school officials say the do not expect Monday's absences to have a significant impact on their budget.