Immigration is always a hot-button issue in American politics, but with the election of Donald Trump to the presidency, the status of immigrants and their role within the nation has never been more hotly-debated. With Trump's executive order banning immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries and a week of nationwide immigration raids taking place within his first month in office, immigrants and their allies are speaking out with the "Day Without Immigrants" protests. There's a number of ways you can support support the "Day Without Immigrants" protests planned across the country on Feb. 16 even if you can't attend them yourself.
This "Day Without Immigrants" movement is spearheaded by a general strike by Latinx workers in Washington, D.C. to protest the Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids that resulted in nearly 700 arrests. A "Day Without Latinos" rally was held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on Feb. 13, and there are other "Día Sin Inmigrantes" rallies in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Des Moines, Iowa.
Even more interestingly, however, are the businesses that are closing to honor the protest, not just in DC, but in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and, if Facebook is to be believed, many other cities around the country.
Although the protests seem to have been spurred on by word-of-mouth and local organizing among D.C.'s Latinx community, people of all immigrant backgrounds, and indeed, folks from all walks of life, can strike with the protesters, along with joining with the organizers' calls to abstain from shopping, going to school, or using gasoline.
While labor strikes have a long and storied history of success, the reality is that not everyone can join a strike due to financial obligation or fear of losing their jobs and livelihoods. Luckily, supporting the immigrants who are choosing to strike on Feb. 16 is fairly simple.
Get The Word Out
One of the easiest ways to support the "Day Without Immigrant" protesters is to get the word out about the protests and the belief behind the movement. In as charged a political atmosphere as the one we're in now, a statement saying you stand with immigrants is important. Sharing the stories of immigrants about how they came to the U.S., the unique difficulties they face, and even the difficulties that their children face is an integral part of the pro-immigrant movement as a whole.
People forget that immigrants and refugees are real people, families just like us.— Tommy Tighe (@theghissilent) February 3, 2017
I don't know about you, but I'm ready to stand with them pic.twitter.com/bxhWHwJcvB
Along with spreading the word, making yourself more educated on the realities of immigrant life, and especially the realities of undocumented immigrants, couldn't be more crucial in supporting these protesters or in resisting the racist myth that undocumented people are criminals. It shouldn't have to be said, but people who came to the U.S., whether they did so through legal immigration channels or not, are human beings, and for far too long have been treated as political bargaining chips and scapegoats devoid of humanity.
This shouldn't be a radical statement, but when the president wants to build a wall across the border and has been recorded conflating Mexican immigrants with rapists, recognizing the humanity of immigrants is essential in fighting for their rights.
Vote With Your Dollar
You'll find the #84lumber controversial only if you have thoroughly convinced yourself that immigrants (legal or not) are not really people— Paulo L dos Santos (@plbds) February 6, 2017
After spreading the word and educating yourself about the plight of immigrants, the last thing you can do is "vote with your dollar." Many businesses will be closing to honor the strike, and those businesses should be praised — and shop there when they open again. If you don't live in a city where business closings for the "Day Without Immigrants" strikes are publicized, you can and should find your local pro-immigrant organization and give them your money or time. United We Dream is an excellent organization that supports the rights of undocumented people, and they have a great directory of affiliated groups around the country on their site.
Between Americans' unsteady relationship with labor organizing and the very real risks of losing money (or even jobs) by those who join the "Day Without Immigrants," immigrants choosing to strike on Feb. 16 need all the support they can get. By highlighting their importance and giving to organizations that help them, you can send a clear message to the administration — we are a nation of immigrants, and we will fight to help our neighbors work and live in this country.