U.S. News


So, What Exactly Is The 'Day Without Immigrants'?

Immigrants around the U.S. are staying home to make a point about the ways immigrants influence the economy.
People protesting for immigration reform
Posted at 1:12 PM, Feb 16, 2017

Immigrants around the U.S. are staying home rather than going to work or school today for the "Day Without Immigrants." Their goal is to show how big a role immigrants play in America's culture and, in particular, its economy. Many businesses have closed for the day either because of low employee turnout or in solidarity of the cause. Many participants are also refusing to make regular purchases to show additional ways immigrants influence the economy.

President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration and, more recently, a wave of immigration raids that led to 680 arrests, have immigrant rights activists concerned. As the Trump administration and new Congress make clear they want to crack down on illegal immigration, the debate has turned more and more contentious, thus the very different reactions to the Day Without Immigrants campaign.

Many immigrants work in the farm and restaurant sectors, so the food industry has been particularly affected. Several notable restaurants have promised to close, including those of celebrity chefs José Andrés and Rick Bayless.

Andrés told NPR, "When you have employees that have been with you almost 25 years, and they come to you in an organized way and they tell you, 'Don't get upset, but Thursday we are not coming to work,' [the] next thing you ask is, 'What's going on? What's happening?' So I decided to join them and support them — that's what we're doing."

As the Washington Post points out, supporters of the strike don't differentiate between immigrants who are here legally and illegally, while many critics say they aren't anti-immigrant but that undocumented immigrants should not be allowed to stay in the country.

Check out more of our stories on immigration.