Thousands of immigrants and immigration advocates across the United States participated in a national strike Thursday to protest President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.
The protests, collectively called the “Day without Immigrants,” originally gained traction on social media, informally organized on Facebook and WhatsApp, an instant messaging service.
Organizers said the protests attempted to show the effects of immigrant communities on U.S. companies and local businesses.
In Washington, D.C., the protests had the most significant influence on the restaurant industry, with dozens of restaurants closing their doors for the day.
The Architect of the Capitol, which manages the food and support staff for the Capitol building congressional offices, announced that it would function on a modified schedule to accommodate staff participating in the protests.
According to The Washington Post, nearly 48 percent of restaurant workers are foreign-born in the District area.
Sweetgreen, a salad restaurant chain, closed all 20 of its locations in D.C. The restaurant Busboys and Poets also closed its locations in solidarity with the movement.
Celebrity chef José Andrés closed a few of his District area restaurants in support of the immigrant community. Andrés is currently involved in litigation against Trump after going back on an agreement to open a restaurant in the recently opened Trump International Hotel in D.C. because of Trump’s comments about Mexican immigrants on the campaign trail.
Katie Hurd, a spokesperson for Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup, said the company closed restaurants to support workers who wanted to participate in protests. Oyamel, Zaytinya and the three locations of Jaleo all closed for the day. Hurd said a number of restaurants remained open during the day.
“In solidarity with the many immigrants on our staff who are passionate about participating in A Day Without Immigrants, ThinkFoodGroup will close most of its DC-area restaurants on Thursday, February 16,” Hurd wrote in an email to The Hoya.
“China Chilcano, minibar/barmini and all locations of Beefsteak will remain open, staffed by a collective team from all of our D.C.-area restaurants so that we can continue to both serve our guests as well as provide for those of our staff who plan to work that day,” Hurd wrote.
The protests also affected District schools. The Latin American Montessori Bilingual Public Charter School closed on Thursday due to protests.
District Public Schools Chief of Schools John Davis emailed DCPS administrators earlier this week in anticipation of the protests, saying that although students and staff have the right to protest, they were still required to come to schools Thursday.
“DCPS schools are and will continue to be safe places for all students and all people in our communities, regardless of immigration status, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression,” Davis wrote. “We highly value and are committed to fostering a learning environment where staff and students feel safe and secure and we respect the right to self-expression and peaceful protest.”
Iranian immigrant Ahmad Erfani also told WAMU, American University’s radio station, he was closing his bakery, La Caprice, for the demonstrations.
“They are hard workers,” Erfani said. “I am not happy when I see they are not very happy these days, because it is difficult. They work hard, they come here [at] six in the morning.”
Clarissa Martínez-de-Castro, the deputy vice president at the National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic advocacy organization, told The Washington Post the demonstrations presented an inspiring image for immigrant communities.
“In a time when the administration doesn’t seem to see anything positive about the immigrant community, having small-business owners, chefs and their workers challenge that notion and give voice to the very real ways immigrants contribute to society is very significant,” Martinez said.
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