Social media has now become a breeding ground for voicing public opinions and a platform to callout for support. What started as a ripple on Facebook soon sent tremendous currents throughout New York, and throughout the country. On February 17th protestors observed what they called “A day without immigrants,” by skipping work and missing school to display their aggravation of President Trump’s crack down on immigration, both legal and illegal.
The protest gained momentum in various cities across the United States where immigrants with and without legal identities participated in the mass boycott.
Philadelphia’s Italian Market shut its doors on Thursday while Halal Carts, food trucks and coffee shops in Boston; Chicago, Los Angeles and Texas hosted no customers. Fine dining restaurants in San Francisco and the New York Region remained closed for the day. Restaurants Chains such as Blue Ribbons and Frankies 457 Spuntino were closed throughout New York City. While the number of protesters quickly escalated a definite figure could not be obtained.
A New York City Immigration Lawyer, Aygul Charles believes that the President’s arguments can have long lasting implications.
“I think that our President’s words are very harmful to the immigrant community. I think it’s harmful to the world order,” she said.
Charles who is an immigrant herself notes that people are more terrified now and are running into anxiety, when she says, “People are going up to Canada and seeking asylum there. They are travelling from the United States to Canada because they are deciding that given their faith and their nationality, they are not welcome here.”
According to Office of New York State Controller, Immigrants make up more than half of all New Yorkers serving as nursing, psychiatric and home health aides; maids and housekeeping cleaners; and taxi drivers and chauffeurs. They also account for thirty percent of the State’s accountants and auditors; construction laborers; childcare workers; cooks; waiters and waitresses; and janitors and building cleaners.
One such immigrant, Georgia Lale, a Greek visual artist who came to the city two years ago chose not to participate in the protest because as a social activist she shows her support in different ways.
“Immigrants pretty much fall under the same category as refugees because they come here seeking a better quality of life too: to educate themselves, to fend for their family, to fend for their kids. For me its part of human rights,” Lale comments.
Lale’s latest project is a video she posted on the day of the Presidential inauguration where she is wearing a heat blanket she designed, in the form of a hijab, taking the people’s oath and swearing to protect Muslim rights.
But while the protest attracted hundreds of immigrants who thought that their rights were being denied others did not shy away from ridiculing the cause.
Scot Nesbihal, 56, from New Jersey said he did not believe these protests could have any implications and said, “I’m all for the wall and ban on immigrants from certain countries. We live in a very dangerous world and there are people who will cut your head off as soon as they look at you.”
No matter what side of this conflict you reside on, heat is definitely rising and people are ready to fight for what they believe in.