Immigrants Band Together in “Immigrant Day” Nationwide Protest

As Trump continues to pursue the various anti-immigration policies on which he campaigned, activist groups have coalesced to protect the rights of immigrants across the country. In an effort to raise awareness about the importance of immigrant workers in the United States, last Thursday was the date of nationwide protest known as “Day Without Immigrants”. Across the country, immigrants and their children did not show up to work or attend school in act of passive resistance. As a result, thousands of businesses closed or operated with limited services. The hospitality industry, which employs a high percentage of undocumented immigrants, was the most severely affected. Despite the scale of the event, the planning and organization occurred entirely via social media.

While the “Day without Immigrants” did mobilize many people against the nativist atmosphere associated with the current administration, detractors point out various shortcomings. Notably, the turnout was not spectacular. Many people sympathetic to the movement chose to go to work instead of staying home. For many, financial considerations made any absence from their jobs impossible. In addition, potential strikers always have the possibility of retaliation looming over their head. The fear is not unfounded either. In fact, workers had their employment terminated after participating in “Immigrant Day”. Not only were employees under pressure to not take part in the protest, their children also were discouraged. School districts across the country urged their students to go to class. Students who ignored the request were at times met with ridicule. Teachers from Rubidoux High School in Jurupa Valley, California openly mocked children who did not go to school, making disparaging comments about the work ethic of their pupils. It is worth noting that those teachers were placed on administrative leave because of their comments. With the amount of opposition in their way, many opted not to take a risk.

Regardless of why some decided against participating, the fact remains that “A Day Without Immigrants” did not have a massive effect on the general public. Most businesses were open and operated as normal. Aside from the occasional closed McDonald’s or delayed public transportation, most Americans were not impacted by the event. As a result, the nationwide strike might not have been able to accomplish the intended goal to the extent originally intended. This does not mean that similar events are unlikely to occur in the future. With the current state of American politics, many activists will continue to try to raise support for immigrants and their interests.

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