Yesterday a protest occurred called the “Day Without Immigrants,” which aimed to show just how dependent we are on immigrants in America – a nation of immigrants. Of course, this was more of an anti-Trump stunt than anything else, as those protesting apparently can’t comprehend the difference between “legal” and “illegal” immigrants.
Nonetheless, the protest did get thousands of participants nationwide, including both legal and illegal immigrants. Mostly restaurants were affected, industry that disproportionately relies on immigrant labor (both legal and illegal). In many cases it was the restaurant owner closing to show “solidarity” with their staff. In D.C., a large number of immigrant students used the protest as an excuse to play hooky for the day.
It was a peaceful protest – and my local Taco Bell remained open so I (Matt Palumbo) couldn’t complain. That aside, there were some economic consequences that are particularly hilarious when you consider one of the key arguments against illegal immigration is that it depresses the wages of legal citizens. As it turns out, the laws of economics are still functioning.
According to reporter Gwynne Hogan, Dozens of immigrant women usually gather each morning at Marcy and Division avenues waiting for cleaning jobs in Orthodox Jewish homes, but on Thursday, the day of a nationwide immigrant strike, the corner was nearly empty.
The few women who did come to “La Parada” — the stop — in South Williamsburg said they could command $15 or $20 an hour instead of the $10 they’re usually paid, and refused to work for anything less.
“Here there are usually 50, 60 people,” said Ana Mendez, 52, from Peru in Spanish. But on Thursday afternoon, she was one of only a handful of women standing on the corner.
“Nobody’s come,” she said.
Mendez had come to La Parada at 9 a.m. and was there until about 3 p.m. asking for $15 and hour. She’d turned down a half a dozen jobs where people wanted to pay her less, she said.
Zoila Guannan, 50, said she’d gotten frantic calls from women she usually works for.
“They’re desperate, they’re calling here, they’re calling there…They’re calling me, but I’m telling them no,” she said. “Today is special. We want $20 dollars an hour.”
She hoped the strike would, “make them feel it,” she said.
“This was not a normal day for them and for many others,” she said, in Spanish.
Given the context, in this case it seems that both those protesting (and those who decided to still work) were all illegal immigrants.
Perhaps in an effort to boost wages they can aim for a “Day Without Illegal Immigrants” every month.
[Note: This post was authored by Matt Palumbo. Follow him on Twitter @MattPalumbo12]