A Day Without Immigrants

Large crowds gathered to protest during the Day Without Immigrants
Large crowds gathered to protest during the Day Without Immigrants
Courtesy of Google Images

On February 16, immigrants across the country showed America what everyday life would look like if there were no immigrants. On “A Day Without Immigrants,” many foreign born Americans boycotted school and work, and took to the streets in protest. The protests came in response to President Trump’s immigration agenda. In his short time as president, Trump has already placed a temporary ban on immigrants entering the country from six majority Muslim countries and suspended all refugees for 120 days. He also signed an executive order to build a wall between the United States and Mexico and has cracked down on illegal immigrants within the US.

The restaurant industry saw the greatest impact from the protest. In the US, immigrants make up nearly 23% of the workforce in the restaurant industry. The Washington DC area saw an even greater impact on February 16, where about 48% of workers in the restaurant industry are foreign born. Over 80 restaurants in the DC area closed on “A Day Without Immigrants” to show their support for immigrants and immigration.

Some of the most notable restaurants that closed were Sweet Greens, Busboys and Poets and Circa. Celebrity chef José Andrés closed all three of his restaurants in DC, Virginia and Maryland. Local restaurants also participated in the protest: Clare and Don’s Beach Shack and Mike’s Deli at Lazy Sundae, both in Falls Church Virginia, closed their doors on February 16. The two restaurants have the same owners, and they believed joining the protest to support immigrants was imperative.

We thought it was important to participate because we believe we are heading in an unhealthy direction politically and that many Americans don’t realize how many of their friends and neighbors are, in fact, immigrants,” Rebecca Tax, one of the owners of Clare and Don’s and Mike’s Deli at Lazy Sundae, said.

The owners also wanted to join the protest for more personal reasons.

“Our great grandparents fled war and anti-semitism in Eastern Europe at the beginning of the last century, made their way to The United States and started a new life. Without their forethought to escape we would not be here today. Like the immigrants I know today, our great grandparents worked their entire lives to build a better life for their children and their grandchildren. Our friends and employees are in the same position today that our family was in then,” Tax said.

Clare and Don’s as well as Mike’s Deli at Lazy Sundae both demonstrated tremondous support for their employees on “A Day Without Immigrants.”

“We strive to cultivate a feeling of family with our employees and that is why we felt so strongly about supporting them at this critical moment. I believe this feeling of family was strengthened when we showed them they are more important to us than a day’s worth of sales at both of our restaurants,” Tax said.

Another local restaurant, Pupatella in Arlington Virginia, also chose to join the protest because immigration is an important issue to their staff and owners.

“Many employees, including the owners, are immigrants, or have someone they care about from another country, so this cause is close to our hearts,” manager of Pupatella, Anastasiya Laufenberg said.

“We are happy with our decision, because hopefully we made our contribution, and while it is small, we feel a part of a much larger force. And we enjoyed participating in the American democratic process,” Laufenberg said.

All the restaurants that participated in “A Day Without Immigrants” closed to show that they support immigrants and their contribution to the work force, and this is important especially with our current administration.

“It is important to support immigrants especially right now, because ‘Immigrant’ is becoming a dirty word, and it should not be. Nobody should be embarrassed of being an immigrant. Immigrants make America stronger, by bringing their brain power and physical labor force. And they work hard and pay taxes, so they are not stealing anything from anybody,” Laufenberg said.

The closing of numerous restaurants was not the only way people showed their support on “A Day Without Immigrants.” Streets across the country filled with protesters marching, chanting and holding signs with slogans such as ‘We Are All Immigrants,’ ‘Immigrants Make America Great’ and ‘Immigrant Rights Are Human Rights.”

Protests took place in cities across the US including Los Angeles, Charlotte, Detroit, Austin, St Paul and Washington DC.

A non profit organization, Many Languages One Voice, organized both a rally and a march through DC. Protesters marched from the Mount Pleasant neighborhood in DC, which contains a large Hispanic population, to the White House. The march featured chanting in both English and Spanish, as well as marchers carrying signs and vowing to stay united.

“A Day Without Immigrants” featured people from all different parts of the country standing together to show their support for immigrants and immigration. Before February 16, many people had no idea what an America without immigrants would look like. Now protesters given them a taste of what the American workforce would be like without them. Protesters continue to work to convey their message that immigrants are vital to our economy.


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About the Contributor
Sofie Dalton, News Editor
Sofie Dalton is the news editor of The Yorktown Sentry. She is a senior and has been on staff for four years. Sofie is the Co-President of the Best Buddies chapter at Yorktown and also enjoys participating in Special Olympics and Young Life Capernaum. A fun fact about Sofie is that she has had the class advisor, Ms. Wiedemann, for all four years of high school over a total of five classes. 

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