Last Thursday, February 16th, 2017, we caught a glimpse of what America would look like without immigrants. On this #DayWithoutImmigrants, Americans who were born in foreign countries were asked to skip work and not spend any money that day to show the importance of immigrants’ contributions to the U.S. economy. This resulted in thousands of businesses closing down or reducing services, especially in the restaurant industry where nearly a quarter of restaurant workers are foreign-born and almost half of chefs in the U.S. are immigrants.
— Kait ???? (@itzzkait) February 16, 2017
Many small businesses around the country shut their doors last Thursday and posted signs in the windows in solidarity with immigrants. Even big chains such as Burger King, Starbucks, and Taco Bell closed their locations at the Pentagon in D.C. McDonald's actually closed multiple restaurants across the country acknowledging the significant contribution of immigrants.
One of the most amazing parts of the "Day Without Immigrants" movement is its origin; no one knows where it started. These protests were truly self-organized at the grassroots level without any form of national organization. After the success of the Women’s March in January, people started talking on social media and messaging services like WhatsApp about a protest in support of immigrants. This movement was led by ordinary people in communities across the country standing up against discrimination and injustice.
The Day Without Immigrants movement was also sparked by the discriminatory travel ban on seven Muslim-majority countries and recent raids on undocumented immigrants. Amidst all the hate and uncertainty, everyday citizens are finding ways to make their voices heard.