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‘Day Without Immigrants’ protest backfires for workers, students

A group marches through downtown heading to the Texas Capitol during an immigration protest, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

A group marches through downtown heading to the Texas Capitol during an immigration protest, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Campuses and businesses nationwide participated in “A Day Without Immigrants,” where foreign-born workers protested recent immigration policy and deportations by not going to school, work, or contributing to the US economy. More than 100 immigrant workers across the country lost their jobs following the strike.

Some workers were fired for ditching work to participate in the strike, while others were laid off because their employers discovered they had been working for them for years without legal documentation. Twitter users expressed backlash by calling for the boycott of those employers.

The protests, primarily taking place in cities with large immigrant populations such as Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York City, were advertised via Facebook and other social media platforms weeks in advance.

The movement, dubbed #ADayWithoutImmigrants on social media, was practiced across all age groups and residency statuses across the United States.

In grade schools, some teachers were left with half empty classes as multiple students ditched class and went to protests. One mother pulled her child out of class to take him to a march, telling him he wasn’t going to school “because today he was going to learn about immigration.” One bilingual charter school in Washington D.C. shut down for the day, encouraging its students and teachers to boycott the US economy as well.

Despite this, the Washington D.C. school district told students they were “expected to be in school so that teaching and learning can continue.” The Los Angeles school system expressed similar sentiments to their employees and students.

On college campuses, students primarily showed solidarity by tweeting about it. Multiple users said they would like to attend the protest, but they had spent too much on tuition to miss class. Other users expressed delight at classes being canceled for the day. One user said her college’s Spanish department shut down for the day, while others said that immigrant professors canceled classes. Most seemed more excited about the canceled classes than the protests.

The Latin American Law Student Association at Syracuse posted a photo on Instagram with many of its members holding signs expressing their positive views towards all immigration.

Businesses also shut down nationwide, including the restaurant chain of chef Jose Andres. The chef was involved in a lawsuit with Trump over the legality of Andres withdrawing his plans of building his restaurant in the Trump hotel. Andres later proposed settling to which Trump’s lawyers have yet to respond to favorably.

As of 2014, the immigrant population was over 40 million. Thousands were said to have participated in the boycott.

As of 2015, there were 26.3 million immigrant workers, which is about 16.7 percent of the entire labor force. In 2009, illegal immigrants were comprised of 12 percent of the fast food industry. Despite this, many fast food chains, including Chipotle, did not shut down.

A 2015 poll reported that 58 percent of Hispanic voters supported Trump’s immigration policies. Trump also did better with Hispanic voters, garnering 29 percent of the Latino vote, than Romney, who got 27 percent.

While the boycotts are being revered by many, the protests seemed counter-effective in theory. Students were deprived of a day of education, workers were deprived a day’s income, and consumers, immigrants as well as natives, were deprived of the ability to buy products.


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