The heart of Philadelphia's Italian Market was uncommonly quiet. Fine restaurants in New York, San Francisco, and the nation's capital closed for the day. Grocery stores, food trucks, coffee shops, diners, and taco joints in places like Chicago, Los Angeles, and Boston shut down. The AP reports immigrants around the US stayed home from work and school Thursday to demonstrate how important they are to America's economy, and many businesses closed in solidarity, in a nationwide protest called A Day Without Immigrants. The boycott was aimed squarely at President Trump's efforts to step up deportations, build a wall at the Mexican border, and close the nation's doors to many travelers.
Organizers appealed to immigrants from all walks of life to take part, but the effects were felt most strongly in the restaurant industry, which has long been a first step up the economic ladder for newcomers to America. Restaurant owners with immigrant roots of their own were among those acting in solidarity with workers. Expensive restaurants and fast-food joints alike closed, some perhaps because they had no choice, others because of what they said was sympathy for their immigrant employees. "Businesses cannot function without immigrant workers," the president of the National Council of La Raza says. The construction industry, which likewise employs large numbers of immigrants, also felt the effects of Thursday's protest.