Nationwide ‘Day Without Immigrants’ Protests And Closed Businesses
Day Without Immigrants Protests
Thursday, February 16, has been designated “A Day Without Immigrants”, by several groups, as a protest about efforts to remove illegal immigrants from the country.
According to USA Today, thousands of protesters are participating in many events, including marches, not showing up for work, and keeping kids out of school. Their goal is to demonstrate ‘how much migrants form the lifeblood of the country’s economy and social structure’.
Many business and restaurant owners across the nation are closed to participate, but there especially a focus in cities such as Atlanta, Detroit, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and Austin. Marches were held in many of those same cities. One protester said “I’m here to be the voice of those who can’t speak.”
The protests follow nationwide roundups of illegal immigrants, part of ICE’s Operation Cross Check, which despite fake news reports, is not a new operation but an annual effort by ICE to remove criminal illegal immigrants and those with deportation orders from the country. Organizers said that the event was also in response to President Trump’s Executive Order and urged legal residents and undocumented/illegal immigrants to participate.
One New York City Restaurant owner learned about the planned event when other restaurant owners texted him Wednesday night, February 15, 2017, to ask if he was participating. Despite the financial burden, the owner decided to remain closed today because of what he said was “lack of an authoritative voice” addressing the issues and “the fear” sweeping the country’s illegal immigrants.
In Washington, D.C., more than a dozen restaurants remained closed today in support of the “A Day Without Immigrants” event. Janet Murguia, president and CEO of National Council of La Raza, praised the restaurants’ closings and said “From doctors to dishwashers, immigrants are integral to daily life in the U.S.”
According to the NPR, some businesses and restaurants that remained open have pledged a portion of their profits from today to nonprofits that aid Latino communities. In Charlotte, one teacher tweeted a picture of her classroom, showing it nearly half empty from students who had stayed home. More than 250 businesses in Charlotte are reported to be closed today. A large crowd of protesters in Kansas City, Missouri, were loud, chanting “USA, USA” in support of the event, but otherwise peaceful.
The event is not original. In 2005, another national movement, the Great American Boycott, occurred on May 1 to protest the Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005. That bill would have required hundreds of miles of fencing to be built along the Mexican border, and strengthened federal anti-immigration laws, but was defeated in the Senate.
Businesses that close for the day appear to be setting themselves up to lose customers who don’t want to support companies that employ illegal immigrants.
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