How would the US fare without immigrants for a day?
Cities across the country got a taste of that Thursday as businesses shut down and immigrants refused to spend money on “A Day Without Immigrants.”
It’s an effort to show the Trump administration how much immigrants contribute to the country’s economy as the President continues his tough stances on immigration.
And while many immigrants and business owners refused to work in an act of solidarity, others marked the event in more unorthodox ways. Here are some of their stories:
Restaurant workers do ‘double the work’ in advance
Matt Carr, owner of the Little Red Fox restaurant in Washington D.C., had no problem letting his immigrant employees strike on Thursday — even though they’re vital to his business.
“We have three prep cooks on strike today for ‘A Day Without Immigrants.’ They are all parents worried about their families and futures,” Carr told CNN.
But before those workers went on strike, they made sure the business was taken care of.
“Dear Matt, kale salad is ready,” the protesters wrote on a note for their boss. “Fruit salad just needs blueberries + mint. Oranges are cut. Thank you, The ladies of the kitchen.”
Carr said he appreciates the dedication of his employees.
“We’re a very small business, and without them we would not be able to open today,” he said. “They not only gave me a heads-up about the strike, but did double the work yesterday so we would be in good shape today.”
Carr said he’s “holding down the fort” by also washing dishes and preparing food. He said his business would fall apart without his immigrant employees, who come from Venezuela and Guatemala.
“Immigrants are the backbone of this country and the heart and soul of the service industry,” he said. “Without them, our small businesses would crumble. They are also part of our family here at Little Red Fox, and I, too, am worried about their future under this administration.”
Nervous employee asks bosses to join in
As the daughter of Mexican immigrants, Eunice Arcos wanted to join the strike Thursday. So the night before, Arcos said, she nervously texted her bosses at Makeup On The Go Cosmetics in Dallas, asking if they would join her in solidarity.
They granted her wish.
“We will be closed tomorrow!” her bosses responded.
The college student broadcast the support from her employer on Twitter.
“My heart is so happy!” Arcos tweeted.
She told CNN her parents came from Mexico City 35 years ago, and that her entire family was on strike Thursday.
“My parents were once immigrants, so it was really important to be part of this boycott,” she said.
Customer: Nothing can replace immigrants
Every Tuesday and Thursday for the past five years, Hiba Hamwi picks up breakfast at Pan American Bakery in Rosslyn, Virginia. The full-time student said the cheese empanadas make her 8 a.m. class “so much less dreadful.”
But this Thursday morning, a sign at the bakery read, “Thursday is going to be closed.”
Hamwi said the strike made her think about the importance of immigrants in her life.
“Hispanic food is my all-time favorite, and not being able to have it is just tragic,” she told CNN. “I don’t think anything could replace (immigrants) and how great different cultures are.”
DC restaurant supports boycott — by staying open
Just over a mile from the White House, the upscale restaurant Unum supported the boycott by keeping its doors open.
“Unum strongly support ‘day without immigrants’ & after discussing with our staff we will be OPEN,” the restaurant’s Instagram page said.
“We feel our customers should gain first hand knowledge and realize how important, hard working and dedicated our immigrant staff work every day and what it is like without them. E Pluribus Unum — From Many, One.”
New York: Immigrant business owners unite with immigrant employees
Manhattan’s Dough doughnut shop shut down not just because the immigrant employees went on strike, but because the business owners are immigrants, too.
“Please note that we will be closed on Thursday February 16th in support of our immigrant staff’s desire & right to protest and be part of “A day without immigrant strike,” the owners posted on a sign.
“As immigrant business owners, we proudly stand in solidarity.”
Customer Z. Hernandez visits the Dough several times a week and was surprised by the sign. But she said she supports the owners’ decision.
“It made me proud to support a business that is standing up for such an important cause,” she said.
Restaurant industry could be devastated
While a wide array of businesses feel the impact of losing immigrant workers for a day, the restaurant industry would be crippled without them.
In 2015, 7.1 million restaurant workers in the US were immigrants, compared to 5.1 million workers who were native born, according to the most recent report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
As for undocumented workers, an analysis by Pew Research found that about 1.1 million of the restaurant industry’s workers were undocumented in 2014. That makes restaurants second only to construction when it comes to relying on undocumented workers.