A day with­out im­mi­grants hurts Amer­ica

The Trentonian (Trenton, NJ) - - FRONT PAGE - L.A. Parker Colum­nist L.A. Parker is a Tren­to­nian colum­nist. Reach him at la­parker@ tren­to­nian.com. Fol­low on Twit­ter@ la­parker6.

A His­panic woman work­ing as a main­te­nance em­ployee for a lo­cal mall ex­pressed con­cern about Thurs­day’s “A Day With­out Im­mi­grants” strike that high­lights the la­bor im­pact of Latino work­ers.

“I’m not com­ing to work,” she said. “The ques­tion is whether I will have a job af­ter tak­ing off. But I’m go­ing to do this, I have to.”

The woman asked for anonymity know­ing that she could suf­fer em­ploy­ment ram­i­fi­ca­tions about her ac­tions.

This “Una Día Sin Im­ma­grantes” protests ramped ef­forts to de­port un­doc­u­mented res­i­dents.

Par­tic­i­pa­tion in­cludes risk and po­ten­tially no re­ward ex­cept for build­ing sol­i­dar­ity in se­vere un­cer­tain times.

ICE raids on un­doc­u­mented U.S. res­i­dents ap­pear reg­u­larly on news broad­casts and in daily pub­li­ca­tions.

Some un­doc­u­mented peo­ple, al­ready liv­ing shad­owed lives, have re­treated into dark­ness even fur­ther, fear­ing that vis­i­bil­ity could mean ar­rest.

Protest or­ga­niz­ers have asked Latino im­mi­grants not to go to work, open busi­nesses, shop, eat in restau­rants, buy gas, go to classes, or send chil­dren to school.

The mes­sage alerts Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump that with­out Lati­nos, un­doc­u­mented or with pa­pers, the U.S. eco­nomic en­gine moves slowly.

In Mil­wau­kee, thou­sands marched against de­por­ta­tion Mon­day as about 150 busi­nesses closed in sup­port for this ini­tia­tive.

NBC re­ported that “Trump wants to paint im­mi­grants as some­thing we should be afraid of; that it is some­thing bad,” Chris­tine Neumann-Or­tiz, the di­rec­tor of Vo­ces de la Fron­tera said. “When peo­ple do this gen­eral, wide strike what they show is that on the con­trary im­mi­grants are lift­ing up this econ­omy and when they with­hold their con­tri­bu­tions we see a de­cline.”

The peace­ful push­back con­nects with ef­forts launched by Ce­sar Chavez, an Amer­i­can la­bor leader and civil rights ac­tivist who, with Dolores Huerta, co­founded the Na­tional Farm Work­ers As­so­ci­a­tion in 1962.

Chavez mor­phed from Mex­i­can Amer­i­can farm worker to a civil rights icon as he rep­re­sented and union­ized 50,000 farm field work­ers.

The Chavez ef­fort mir­rored a black civil rights move­ment mas­ter­minded by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who im­ple­mented non­vi­o­lent strikes to im­pact a san­i­ta­tion work­ers protest in Mem­phis, a bus boy­cott in Mont­gomery, Alabama and a lunch counter in Greens­boro, North Carolina.

An es­ti­mated 11 mil­lion un­doc­u­mented res­i­dents dwell in the U.S. and Trump has promised im­me­di­ate de­por­ta­tion for an al­leged two mil­lion who have crim­i­nal records.

The Trump ex­tended im­mi­gra­tion plan hopes to de­port all un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants, plus, se­cur­ing via a wall, the Mex­ico-U.S. bor­der.

This im­mi­grant ac­tion in­cludes sig­nif­i­cant sup­port from many busi­ness own­ers who pledged no re­tal­i­a­tion against im­mi­grants who do not re­port to work.

The “A Day With­out Im­mi­grants” ef­fort in­tends to build grass­roots al­liances that pro­mote so­lu­tions to im­mi­gra­tion is­sues, in­clud­ing amnesty and a path­way to cit­i­zen­ship.

The im­mi­grant ac­tivism oc­curs one day be­fore a pro­posed na­tional protest against Trump.

The Feb. 17 ac­tion en­cour­ages peo­ple to call out from work and to spend no money.

This protest sup­ports no Mus­lim travel ban, uni­ver­sal health­care, an end to sev­eral pipe­line projects and sev­eral other Trump roll outs.

Crit­ics of Jan­uary’s Women’s March on Wash­ing­ton, D.C. pre­dict most pro­test­ers will grow silent.

Im­mi­grants and sup­port­ers should heed Dr. King’s mes­sage about per­se­ver­ance. The night be­fore his as­sas­si­na­tion in April 1968, King ad­dressed san­i­ta­tion work­ers in Mem­phis.

“We’ve got to give our­selves to this strug­gle un­til the end. Noth­ing would be more tragic than to stop at this point in Mem­phis. We’ve got to see it through,” King preached.

AP PHOTO/JIM COLE

Far­tun Sen­gow, from So­ma­lia, now liv­ing in Con­cord, N,H., holds a sign dur­ing a rally for im­mi­grants and refugees at the State House in 2012.

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