The Associated Press PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The heart of Philadelphia’s Italian Market was uncommonly quiet. Fine restaurants in New York, San Francisco and the nation’s capital closed for the day. Grocery stores, food trucks, coffee shops, diners and taco joints in places like Chicago, Los Angeles and Boston shut down.
Immigrants around the United States stayed home from work and school Thursday to demonstrate how important they are to the U.S. economy, and many businesses closed in solidarity, in a nationwide protest called A Day Without Immigrants.
The boycott was aimed squarely at U.S. President Donald Trump’s efforts to step up deportations, build a wall at the Mexican border and close the nation’s doors to many travelers. Organizers said they expected thousands to participate or otherwise show support.
It was unclear how many people participated, but in many cities, the actions were disruptive, if not halting. More actions are being planned for May 1 — known as May Day, the internationally recognized holiday honoring workers.
The protest even reached into the U.S. Capitol, where a Senate coffee shop was among the eateries that were closed as employees did not show up at work.
Organizers appealed to immigrants from all walks of life to take part, but the effects were felt most strongly in the restaurant industry, which has long been a first step up the economic ladder for newcomers to America with its many jobs for cooks, dishwashers and servers. Restaurant owners with immigrant roots of their own were among those acting in solidarity with workers.
Expensive restaurants and fast-food joints alike closed, some perhaps because they had no choice, others because of what they said was sympathy for their immigrant employees. Sushi bars, Brazilian steakhouses, Mexican eateries and Thai and Italian restaurants all turned away lunchtime customers.
“The really important dynamic to note is this is not antagonistic, employee-against-employer,” said Janet Murguia, president of the Hispanic rights group National Council of La Raza. “This is employers and workers standing together, not in conflict.”
She added, “Businesses cannot function without immigrant workers today.”
Since the end of 2007, the number of foreign-born workers employed in the United States has climbed by nearly 3.1 million to 25.9 million; they account for 56 percent of the increase in U.S. employment over that period, according to the Labor Department.Speech