BOSTON (CBS) – Many immigrants nationwide and in New England chose not to go to work or to school Thursday as a way of illustrating how significant a contribution they make. It’s being called a “Day Without Immigrants”, a movement that has caught fire on social media.
Framingham Center was like a ghost town during what should have been a busy lunch hour. One store or restaurant after another was closed in the community with a large immigrant population to show the impact of foreign born workers.
“It’s trying to make a point that everyone is important in this country it doesn’t matter where you’re coming from,” said Garcio Goncalves, who runs a computer training center in Framingham. He says he couldn’t close his doors Thursday with the work he does supporting websites, but is paying any employee who chose to stay home.
A “Day Without Immigrants” is protesting the Trump Administration’s crackdown on immigration. At a rally in East Boston Claudia Garcia says she kept her daughter home from school hoping the demonstration will be lesson enough. “I want everybody to know this day is important,” she said.
The chain of Anna’s Taqueria restaurants closed all but one Brookline location, helping one customer Bob Nisi who supports the statement being made. “I think it’s great, I think the country would fall apart without immigrants,” he said.
Other restaurants that were closed include Shojo in Chinatown, Muqueca in Cambridge, or Erbaluce in Bay Village.
“Since many of these folks, especially the folks who work in the restaurant business, make their money by being at work, it’s a big statement for them to make,” Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said.
On their Facebook page, Shojo management wrote, “We are choosing to participate in solidarity with all immigrants as a reflection of our resolute belief in diversity. The beauty of our location in Chinatown is its deep rooted history in migration, opportunity, and innovation. Our restaurant’s heart and soul are no exception. We hope you understand our choice to commit to this movement.”
Eataly Boston in the Back Bay supported any employees who wished to take part in the strike.
“We apologize for any delay or disruption you might experience tomorrow at Eataly,” the company wrote in a statement. “We are an immigrant company, born in Italy, with many immigrant employees. Any team member who chooses to participate in the national ‘Day Without Immigrants’ protest strike has our support.”
A recent WalletHub survey found Massachusetts ranked fourth among states where immigrants were making the largest economic impact.
“We benefit tremendously both economically and culturally from that global footprint that we have,” said Baker. “I think it’s important for people if they are particularly concerned about these issues, and I certainly understand why they would be, to make a statement.”
The Davis Museum at Wellesley College is making its own statement with an exhibit that actually covers up the work of immigrant artists and collectors, some pieces even temporarily removed. “When you enter a space and the work is shrouded from view you have a sense of what you lose,” said Lisa Fischman, the museum’s director.