NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Fine restaurants in the nation’s capital and New York closed for the day. Grocery stores, food trucks and taco joints in places like Chicago and Boston shut down. The heart of Philadelphia’s Italian Market was uncommonly quiet.
Immigrants around the U.S. stayed home from work and school Thursday to demonstrate how important they are to America’s economy and its way of life, and many businesses closed in solidarity, in a nationwide protest called A Day Without Immigrants.
From the Hunts Point Market in the Bronx to Perth Amboy, New Jersey, immigrants are taking part, WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reported. Most businesses in Perth Amboy closed and cab companies weren’t picking up fares. Rallies were also planned in New Brunswick and Newark.
The protest gained momentum on social media and by word of mouth.
The boycott was aimed squarely at President Donald Trump’s efforts to crack down on immigration, legal and illegal.
Trump‘s administration has pledged to increase the deportation of immigrants living in the country illegally. Trump campaigned on building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, and blamed high unemployment on immigration. As president, he’s called for a ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries from coming into the U.S.
Organizers said they expected thousands to participate or otherwise show their support.
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 with its many jobs for cooks, dishwashers and servers. Expensive restaurants and fast-food joints alike closed across the U.S.
51st Bakery and Cafe in Long Island City and Dough Doughnuts’ in Brooklyn were among some of the eateries in New York City that closed Thursday.
Blue Ribbon said it decided to close the majority of its restaurants in New York City to support the event.
“We stand 100% behind our employees – whether they are immigrants or born in America, back of house or front of house,” the company wrote on its Facebook page. “When employees who haven’t missed a day of work in nearly 25 years come to you and ask for a day off to march against injustice, the answer is easy.”
Eataly in the Flatiron District remained open, but apologized to its customers for any possible delays.
“We apologize for any delay tomorrow [Thursday]. We are an immigrant company & support any employees participating in the strike #DayWithoutImmigrants,” Eataly posted to Twitter on Wednesday.
Since the end of 2007, the number of foreign-born workers employed in the U.S. has climbed by nearly 3.1 million to 25.9 million; they account for 56 percent of the increase in U.S. employment over that period, according to the Labor Department.
The foreign-born — who include American citizens, green-card holders and those working without legal authorization — tend to be younger and to take jobs in fields that have been growing fastest, including restaurants, hotels and stores.
Roughly 12 million people are employed in the restaurant industry, and immigrants make up the majority — up to 70 percent in places like New York and Chicago, according to the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, which works to improve working conditions.
An estimated 1.3 million in the industry are immigrants living in the U.S. illegally, the group said.
Many people who skipped work will lose a day’s pay or worse, and many student absences will not be excused. But organizers argued that the cause is worth the sacrifice.
(TM and © Copyright 2017 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)