Businesses shut as ‘day without immigrants’ protest held in U.S.

February 15, 2017

By Globe and Mail |

Businesses shut their doors, students skipped class and thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in cities across the United States on Thursday to protest President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.

Activists called “A Day Without Immigrants” to highlight the importance of the foreign-born, who account for 13 percent of the U.S. population, or more than 40 million naturalized American citizens.

Trump campaigned against the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants, playing on fears of violent crime while promising to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border and stop potential terrorists from entering the country.

While the number of participants in Thursday’s protests could not be determined, many sympathetic business owners closed shop and working-class immigrants forwent pay for the day.

“I told my English teacher that I wasn’t going to school, and she said she understood,” said Rosa Castro, a 13-year-old U.S. citizen in Detroit, who marched with her 26-year-old sister, one of several undocumented family members whose future she is concerned about.

Since taking office last month, the Republican president has signed an executive order temporarily banning entry to the United States by travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries and all refugees. That order was put on hold by federal courts.

Immigrant rights groups have also expressed alarm after federal raids last week rounded up more than 680 people suspected of being in the country illegally.

In San Diego’s Logan Heights neighborhood, a 44-year-old undocumented business owner who identified herself only as Lucia for fear of deportation told Reuters she closed her nutrition shop for the day, costing her $200.

“Our community is frightened and cannot speak out,” she said. “Things are very bad for us with the new president.”

Advocates have called attention to cases such as one in El Paso, Texas, where federal agents arrested a transgender woman as she left a courthouse where she was seeking a protective order for domestic violence.

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