The Day Without Immigrants protest Thursday, Feb. 16, focused on showing the relevancy that immigrants play in today’s American culture and society.
The protest emphasized that immigration is ingrained in the history of the United States and that this is something we should honor and be proud of, not something that we should attempt to reject. After all, the country was founded on those same beliefs that most immigrants hold dear: the idea that hard work is required to achieve prosperity.
On Thursday, people all over the country gathered around cities to show the strong support behind the immigration movement.
Online, the trending #DayWithoutImmigrants hashtag showed the massive amount of people that closed down their business or didn’t show up to work or school in support of the movement. They emphasized what life would be like if all immigrants were not present. Life would be difficult. Life would be expensive. Life would be subpar.
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The movement emphasized the difficulties that our society could face if immigrants were all to be deported or banned from this country, a radical idea that many conservatives strongly yearn for. It emphasized that immigrants are everywhere and that their power is strong. It showed that immigrants are essential to the country. Immigrants help make the country run smoothly.
This message was made clear all over the news Thursday. Television shows, art galleries, restaurants and other companies released messages that spoke to the vital power of immigrants. They showed that immigrants are artists, business people, firefighters, police officers, teachers, engineers, store managers and much more.
Immigrants have the ability to be anything and everything they want in our country. They show a dedication that many others would have trouble trying to demonstrate: leaving their families and lives behind to start anew, to advance themselves in whichever way they can. Our country is a symbol for prosperity and achievement. People come here to succeed.
Unfortunately, although I realize that the protest statement was clearly covered in the media, I also realize that the protest wasn’t acknowledged as it should have been. Coincidentally, President Donald Trump had an incendiary press conference on Thursday as well. He accused, lied and made things up, as per usual. He overshadowed everything else that day. He gave the news a whole batch of new inanities to try to decipher. The media, which he so strongly feels opposed to, was all about him on Thursday. The #DayWithoutImmigrants protest was overshadowed, but its purpose was still fulfilled.
Watching the press conference, I realized that this is something our country will have to deal with for the next four years. Let’s hope it’s not eight. There will always be something controversial coming out of the White House as long as Trump sits in office. This should not be a reason to cancel protests or feel discouraged about their effects.
Protests are good for the country and the strongest way in which people can have their voices heard. After letters, calls and emails to representatives go unnoticed, protesting is the obvious solution. Our country advances through these physical representations of activism. This is how our country revolutionizes itself, how it evolves. Change happens through people standing up and having their voices heard.
The #DayWithoutImmigrants protest served its purpose.
It reminded the country and the president that immigrants are human beings that breathe the same air everyone else does. They have voices, just like everyone else—voices that must be heard. Immigrants work. They are not sitting idly by. They never have and they never will.
Follow Julian Cardenas on Twitter.