On Thursday, immigrants across the country have pledged to remove themselves from their public lives for a day in a action that’s being called “A Day Without Immigrants.” In other words, immigrants are hoping to give Donald Trump a taste of exactly what he wants. And by making their absence known, remind the country of their vital role in their communities.
“The ask has been: Stay home, don’t shop, don’t go to work, and don’t send your kids to school,” said Erika Almiron, the executive director of Juntos, a Philadelphia-based immigrant rights organizing group.
It’s unclear how many people will participate today, and the action seems to have spread organically without much coordinated planning through social media. Restaurant industry leaders, dependent as they are on immigrant labor, have been the most public supporters of the action. The celebrity chef José Andrés will shut down five of his Washington, DC, restaurants to support his staff. At least five Philadelphia restaurateurs have pledged to support their workers. Restaurants in Austin, Denver, and New York have also announced that they’ll be supporting workers, either by shutting down or by capping reservations to support workers who stay home. And it’s not just the high end. In Los Angeles, the beloved Leo’s Taco Truck announced this week that it would also shut down all of its locations for the day.
“It seems immigrants, especially Latinos, it seems we are under attack,” Andrés told NPR. “It seems we are part of the American dream, but somehow it seems that America is not recognizing what we are doing.”
Thursday’s day of action follows a similar one organized by thousands of immigrants and their allies across Wisconsin on Monday. The protests are a response to the Trump administration’s sweeping immigration crackdowns and the alarming raids that Immigration and Customs Enforcement has pursued in the last week. Last week ICE arrested nearly 700 people in an aggressive campaign that spanned the entire country.
Among them was Daniel Ramirez Medina, a 23-year-old undocumented immigrant with purported protection from deportation. He is a recipient of a 2012 initiative by President Obama called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, which grants him short-term protection from deportation and a work permit.