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Illegal immigrants flex their economic muscle

At workplaces across the nation, the financial cost of a day without immigrants hit home.

For Malone Food stores — a small grocery chain in Dallas — closing Monday meant $300,000 in lost sales.

"It's a little bit of a financial bite," says owner Rick Gomez.

But, he adds, it's a bite his business is willing to take. Ninety-five percent of his workforce, and most of his customers, are Hispanic.

"It is vital, in our opinion, to support the customers, and the employees and their extended families who have been affected by this issue of immigration reform," Gomez says.

Gomez chose to shut down, but in Florida, vegetable farmer Arturo De Leon had no choice — and no workers to pick crops.

"Without them, we can't do it," De Leon says. "We just can't do it."

Immigrants stayed away from thousands of job sites nationwide. Only a handful of workers showed up at one Dallas construction site, but not all immigrants agree with the protests.

Just across the street, Nizar Ali and his employees were on the job.

"We are open today, for the business," he says, proving the point that there's a legal process for immigrating and working.

"You have to work," he said. "Otherwise you can’t get money, you know."

This much is certain: Millions of immigrants flexed their muscle Monday.

At ports in southern California, 90 percent of the truckers needed to move cargo didn't show up. For driver Jose Munoz, mowing his lawn Monday instead of working, all those idle big rigs are a warning.

"It's going to be one day, and if things don't change or nothing, it's probably going to be more days," Munoz warns.

Those will be days, immigrant workers say, which American businesses can't afford.