As a response to Trump’s attempts to crackdown on immigrants, thousands of protesters nationwide participated in “A Day Without Immigrants” this past Thursday, from marching to boycotting jobs to keeping kids out of school to showcase how vital immigrants have been and still are to America and its economy.
According to USA Today, many shop and restaurant owners in Atlanta, G.A.; Detroit, M.I.; Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia, P.A.; Austin, T.X.; and other major U.S. cities joined the protest by closing their doors in a show of solidarity with their workers. In many places, immigrants marched to demonstrate their role in the nation’s economy.
According to the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, immigrants make up the majority of the 12 million workers in the restaurant industry and up to 70% of those employed in cities like New York and Chicago which work to improve working conditions. Approximately 1.3 million in the industry are undocumented immigrants.
Despite the large turnout and support of the event, employers have reacted apathetically. According to KTUL, Bill McNally, the owner of the I Don’t Care Bar and Grill in Catoosa, O.K., fired 12 Latino employees who participated in the protest through text, saying: “You and your family are fired. I hope you enjoyed your day off, and you can enjoy many more. Love you.”
In Nolensville, Tennessee, nearly 20 employees at Bradley Coatings, Incorporated — a commercial painting company — were laid off after participating in the nationwide strike on Thursday, NBC reported.
The termination of immigrant employees nationwide is a reminder that immigrant laborers are vital to America’s workforce, but are exploited and viewed as disposable labor. When immigrants raise their voices and show resistance to institutions that refuse to treat them fairly, these same institutions punish them through termination for not showing utmost compliance.
Rather than blaming immigrants for taking jobs and raising their voices to show their existence and importance , the blame should shift to employers taking advantage of the citizenship status of immigrants, especially undocumented immigrants.