A Day Without Immigrants protest sees US businesses close
Friday, February 17, 2017

US businesses and schools faced disruption on Thursday as workers and students stayed home to highlight the contribution of immigrants.

Schools, restaurants and grocery stores shut across the country, from Los Angeles to Chicago to New York.

Some schools saw student-led walkouts, despite appeals not to.

The Day Without Immigrants protest, spread by social media, urged foreign-born workers to refuse to participate in the US economy for a day.

About 50 restaurants in Washington were shut on Thursday, as well as in other cities including Boston and San Francisco.

At the Pentagon in Virginia, the heart of America's military where about 25,000 people work, at least seven restaurants announced they would be shut for the day.

In Massachusetts, Wellesley's College's art museum removed all artworks created or donated by immigrants.

In New Mexico, the US state with the highest percentage of Hispanic residents, many businesses were shuttered from Albuquerque to Santa Fe.

Standing in the 9th Street Market in Philadelphia, Rani Vasudeva was struck by the usually bustling hub of commerce's quietness.

"It's actually very sad," said the 38-year-old university professor. "You realise the impact the immigrant community has. We need each other for our daily lives."

The Los Angeles United School District, the nation's second largest district, rang parents to warn them.

"I urge students and staff not to disrupt learning by participating in protests or walkouts during the instructional day," chief-of-staff Alma Pena-Sanchez said in a voicemail message sent to parents.

One school in the US capital decided to close down for the day, in order to allow teachers to protest.

The 426 primary students of the Latin American Montessori Bilingual Public Charter School were given the day off in solidarity with the boycott.

Andy Shallal, who is closing several of his Washington-area restaurants, is from Iraq - one of the seven countries on Mr Trump's proposed travel ban executive order.

He told local media that "as an immigrant myself, I could not stand on the sidelines and watch the rest of my staff not be here. I wanted to make sure we are in solidarity with them".

One of the protest leaders, Spanish-American celebrity chef Jose Andres, had a public falling out with Donald Trump when he decided to pull out of a contract to open a restaurant in the president's new Washington hotel.

Mr Trump is currently suing him for $10m (£8m) for breach of contract; the chef is counter-suing for $8m (£6.4m).

A march was also planned for the White House.

Last month, nearly 500,000 protesters took to the streets of Washington to protest over the presidency of Donald Trump and to draw attention to issues affecting women.

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Source: BCC

Photo: Reuters