ACROSS the U.S. thousands of protesters took part Thursday in “Day Without Immigrants” events, from marching to boycotting jobs to keeping kids out of school in the hopes of underscoring how migrants form the lifeblood of the country’s economy and society, reports USA Today.
Many shop and restaurant owners in Atlanta, Detroit, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Austin, Texas, New Yotk and other major U.S. cities joined the protest by closing their doors in a show of solidarity with their workers. In many places, immigrants marched to demonstrate their role in the nation’s economy.
“I’m here to be the voice of those who can’t speak,” said Erika Montes, 30, who turned out for a march to the White House. “I’m here to show my students and their families, and my friends and family that teachers are supporting them and we are going to make sure they have a safe place.”
Coming on the heels of roundups of undocumented immigrants nationwide, organizers urged legal residents as well as undocumented ones to participate in the boycott in response to President Trump’s crackdown on immigration.
Among the White House actions rankling protesters are plans to build a border wall, install a temporary immigration ban on nationals from certain Muslim-majority nations, boost patrol agents to curb illegal immigration and strip federal funding from sanctuary cities that limit cooperation with immigration agents.
Immigrants make up the majority of the 12 million workers in the restaurant industry and up to 70% of those employed in cities like New York and Chicago, according to the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, which works to improve working conditions. An estimated 1.3 million in the industry are immigrants living in the U.S. illegally, the group said.
In Washington, D.C., Busboys & Poets and more than a dozen other restaurants in the nation’s capital shut down, including the Sweetgreen salad chain. “Our team members are the face of the brand, from the front lines to our kitchen — they’re the backbone of this company and what makes Sweetgreen special,” said co-founders Jonathan Neman, Nicolas Jammet and Nathaniel Ru. “And that’s why we stand with them, today and every day.”