Schools, shops, restaurants and businesses across US close for “Day without Immigrants”

WASHINGTON-- From snowing Washington D.C. to sunny Los Angeles, many schools, shops, restaurants and businesses closed down across the country Thursday to hold "Day without Immigrants" protests against President Donald Trump's policies on immigration.

Immigrants around the US stayed home from work and school to demonstrate how important they are to America's economy, and many businesses closed in solidarity, in a nationwide protest called "Day without Immigrants."

The protests are against Trump's crackdown on undocumented immigrants, plans to build a border wall between the country and Mexico, plans to strip federal funding from sanctuary cities, as well as his court-suspended executive order temporarily barring US entry to global refugees and immigrants from seven Mid East and North African countries, said organizers.

Meanwhile, the theme of "Day without Immigrants" is also aimed to underscore how much immigrants form the lifeblood of the US economy and social structure, said the organizers, who launched the campaign via social media, urging immigrants not to go to work, to avoid spending money and not send their children to school on Feb. 16.

Responding to the protest theme, in New York, Philadelphia, Austin Texas), and other major US cities, many immigrants, including legal residents and those undocumented, stayed home on Thursday from work and school as part of a boycott, local media reported.

Upscale restaurants cancelled long-standing reservations. Some ubiquitous fast-casual chains were closed. And teachers posted pictures on social media of their empty classrooms, said the reports.

"What a powerful message! My classroom is empty!" a middle school teacher in Minnesota tweeted.

"From doctors to dishwashers, immigrants are integral to daily life in the US," tweeted Janet Murguia, head of National Council of La Raza, as she praised Hispanic American Chef Jose Andres' decision to close his restaurant in Washington, D.C. for the day.

At the Union Park in Chicago, hundreds of demonstrators, primarily Hispanic workers and students, gathered just before noon time and marched in support of immigrant rights and against Trump's immigration policies.

Immigrants make up nearly 23 percent of the American workforce, according to data from the Institute for Immigration Research at George Mason University.

The new wave of protests came after hundreds of undocumented immigrants mainly from Latin American countries were arrested across the country last week, many of them netted at home or workplaces.

On Jan. 25, Trump issued an executive order ending the previous "catch and release" policy. Under the new order, the immigration enforcement are allowed to target undocumented immigrants with minor offenses or no convictions.

Immigration officials have acknowledged that as a result of Trump's executive order, authorities had cast a wider net than they would have last year.

The Obama administration also pursued a more aggressive deportation policy than any previous president, sending over 400,000 people back to their birth countries in 2012. However, in his second term, Obama prioritized convicted criminals for deportation.

On the 2016 campaign trail, Trump pledged to deport two to three million undocumented immigrants with criminal records.

There are estimated over 11 million undocumented immigrants living across the United States.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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