Citizens in the U.S. are getting a look at what life would be like without immigrants, as businesses shut down and immigrants refrain from spending money in multiple cities. The protests, titled “A Day Without Immigrants,” are spreading quickly across the nation in response to President Donald Trump’s controversial immigration stance and related executive orders.
In particular, a series of “A Day Without Immigrants” protests were just held in a number of cities on Thursday, February 16, including Washington, D.C. According to organizers, these protests are an effort to show not only the President, but millions of other people across the U.S., just how much immigrants contribute to the nation’s economy. From line cooks to business owners, people closed up shop for the day in an act of solidarity.
A new era of social media coordinated protests has begun, with witty signs in particular gaining attention and shares online.
In the latest protests, immigrants, the majority of whom are from Mexico and other Latin American countries, were urged to stay home from work and close their own businesses for a full day on February 16. Rose Previte, owner of Compass Rose restaurant in Washington, D.C., told the Washingtonian that a worker had spoken about it and the staff quickly agreed that it was important to support the movement.
Restaurants across the D.C. area and in cities across the nation closed in solidarity with the movement. Some restaurants, like the D.C. restaurant Unum, showed solidarity by staying open. The restaurant said in an Instagram post that “customers should gain first hand knowledge and realize how important, hard working and dedicated our immigrant staff work every day and what it is like without them.”
The “Day Without Immigrants” movement came shortly after a similar protest in Wisconsin, titled “A Day Without Latinos.” In Milwaukee, thousands of activists marched on Monday in an effort to prevent the Milwaukee County Sheriff from enforcing strict crackdowns on undocumented immigrants in the area.
Protesters from at least 12 other cities across the state traveled to march. The march was organized by the Hispanic advocacy group Voces de la Frontera.
“Today is very important for everyone who lives in Wisconsin, but especially for the Milwaukee County area,” said longtime member of Voces de la Frontera Mario Garcia.
Even Wisconsin Senator Chris Larson offered his support to those protesting.
Like many recent protest events, the march was filled with protest signs, many of which have been shared on social media outlets. In the social media age, protesters on both sides of the political aisle are more likely to see their message spread on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. More than 37% of consumers report looking at an outdoor sign every time they pass one, and thanks to social media, protest signs can now have an impact far beyond their physical location.
Garcia and others believe that these “Day Without Immigrants” marches are the first of many more to come.
“We believe that this is the beginning in a movement against these policies,” said Garcia.