(Names have been changed)
How would the U.S. deal without immigrants for a day?
Not so well it turns out.
On Thursday Feb. 16, 2017 appreciation for the value of immigrants in our country was demonstrated through, “A Day Without Immigrants.” This grassroots movement started in opposition to Donald Trump’s immigration policies including mass deportation of undocumented workers and the proposed wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.
On Feb. 16, immigrants and their supporters protested by staying home to show their presence — or lack thereof. In other words not participating in school or work and banning businesses, restaurants, shopping (including online) and buying gas. A flyer for the protest stated, “We might lose a day of work but we will WIN so much more.” Cities throughout the U.S. participated and some even held rallies.
One rally participant displayed a sign with this message “2/3 of Trump’s wives were immigrants proving once again we need immigrants to do jobs most Americans WOULD NOT DO.”
A day without immigrants comes at a time when fear in our immigrant communities is at an all-time high due to raids across the country.
Here in Jasper County, an immigrant couple named Carolina and Luis are feeling the strain. Carolina shared that, “It is really scary waking up and seeing on T.V. what new thing Trump has done on the news.” The fear of deportation is very real. Carolina is taking precautions in case her worst fears are realized.
“I make sure my kids know to go to my aunt’s house if I do not make it to pick them up from school,” she said.
Luis agreed that many families are making these emergency plans. The climate can be unsettling as well. Carolina experienced this recently while picking up groceries.
“There is more of a feeling of being judged,” she said. “A lady at Walmart actually told me to go back to Mexico. I am not a criminal, I am just a working mom.”
Luis and his family were among many area residents who participated in the protest on Feb. 16.
“We didn’t even use electricity that day, but the kids were still sent to school because that is very important. Isn’t that the American dream? Get an education, work hard and better yourself?”
It is too early to determine the success of the “Day without Immigrants,” but we know that we value immigrants in our country. Protests increase awareness and bring a sense of solidarity that energizes people to continue to fight and that is very powerful.