Immigrant workers, families plan protest strike Thursday
Posted February 15
Updated February 16
PHILADELPHIA — Organizers in cities across the U.S. are telling immigrants to miss class, miss work and not shop on Thursday as a way to show the country how important they are to America's economy and way of life.
Raleigh community activist David Salazar went door to door Wednesday asking businesses to stay closed in support of "One Day Without Immigrants."
Salazar says more than 30 local businesses are committed to support the call to oppose the President Donald Trump's pledges to increase deportation of immigrants living in the country illegally, build a wall along the Mexican border, and ban people from certain majority-Muslim countries from coming into the U.S.
"People are excited," Salazar said. "People have already made a decision that they are not working tomorrow. Personally, where I work, a lot of guys say they are not going to work tomorrow."
Eligio Pena, general manager of Compare Foods, a chain of grocers with 15 stores across North Carolina, said his stores would be closed.
"We decided to close the stores for one day to please the customers that were asking for it," he said. "We going to be hurt a little bit, but I hope people come back in the next few days and spend the same amount."
Salazar hopes the day off gets the attention of state and local elected officials, where immigrants play a substantial role in the economy. Legal and undocumented immigrants combined make up more than 10 percent of North Carolina's workforce.
"We love this country, we want to be here, but we also need to let them know that our economy counts," Salazar said.
He said a gathering was planned for Moore Square at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday. Other actions are planned in cities including Philadelphia, Washington, Boston and Austin, Texas.
Employers and institutions in some cities were already expressing solidarity Wednesday with immigrant workers. Washington restaurateur John Andrade said he would close his businesses Thursday, and David Suro, owner of Tequilas Restaurant in Philadelphia and a Mexican immigrant, said he also planned to participate.
The Davis Museum at Wellesley College in Massachusetts said it would remove or shroud all artwork created or given by immigrants to the museum through Feb. 21.
Organizers in Philadelphia said they expect hundreds of workers and families to participate.
"Our goal is to highlight the need for Philadelphia to expand policies that stop criminalizing communities of color," said Erika Almiron, executive director of Juntos, a nonprofit group that works with the Latino immigrant community. "What would happen if massive raids did happen? What would the city look like?"
Almiron said that while community groups have not seen an uptick in immigration raids in the city, residents are concerned about the possibility.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney is among leaders in several cities nationwide who have vowed to maintain their "sanctuary city" status and decline to help federal law enforcement with deportation efforts.
Many people who make the choice to skip work Thursday will not be paid in their absence, but social media posts encouraging participation stressed that the cause is worth the sacrifice.