A Day Without Immigrants

Thursday, February 16, 2017, was known as “A Day Without Immigrants.” Immigrants around the U.S. stayed home from work, and school, on Thursday, to demonstrate how important they are to America’s economy. In an act of solidarity, many businesses also closed for the day. The boycott was primarily directed at the Trump administration’s efforts to build a wall along the Mexican border, increase deportations, and ban travel from a number of Middle Eastern countries.

The protest affected many aspects of life, but A Day Without Immigrants mainly affected the restaurant industry. The restaurant industry was heavily impacted because it offers the most jobs to new immigrants in the U.S. It offers jobs such as cooks, servers, and dishwashers.

Since the end of 2007, the number of foreign-born employees in the U.S. has jumped by nearly 3.1 million to 25.9 million; they account for 56 percent of the increase in the U.S. workforce, according to the Labor Department. In the restaurant industry, there are 12 million immigrants employed, and in cities such as New York and Chicago, they account for more than 70% of the restaurant workforce. Another industry that felt the impact of the protests was construction.

A large portion of the protesters are having to deal with the consequences of President Trump, when a majority of them didn’t even have the right to vote, while other protesters didn’t even vote for him. There is no nation-wide number stating how many people stayed home from school or work, but many student absences were not excused, and some people who skipped work lost a day’s pay or perhaps even their jobs. Even with these consequences, organizers and participants argued the cause was worth it.

Here in St. Paul, the marches started in the Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood. A couple hundred people gathered at the corner of East Seventh and Hope streets near the offices of the Mexican Consulate in St. Paul. The march traveled down East Seventh street past the Asian grocery store, an Ethiopian church, an Italian pizzeria, and a Mediterranean grill. By noon, the streets of St. Paul had protester groups that were two or three blocks long. The march eventually made its way to the Capitol building. The total number of protesters in the Twin Cities reached nearly 200 people, of all types, who boycotted work and school. There was also a handful of restaurant chains the closed in solidarity to the protest.

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