#ADayWithoutImmigrants Journal Entry

Last Thursday, thousands of immigrants and allies closed their restaurants and shops, stayed home instead of going to work, did not send their children to school, and refrained from buying anything, including gasoline. The goal was to show President Trump and his supporters, Congress, and the rest of the world how central immigrant labor and immigrant participation in the market (i.e. business ownership, consumerism) are to our economy. The #ADayWithoutImmigrants strike and boycott, a grassroots movement, was fairly successful in demonstrating the power of the 13.3% of our population born in a foreign country and their children as well as third- and fourth-generation immigrants.

Late Wednesday night, I went with my boyfriend, his mom, and the cousins to pick up grandma from the airport. She'd obtained a visa to visit her family, some of whom she had not seen in over 15 years! After a 3.5 hour flight from Honduras and a long layover in Atlanta, she arrived in Charlotte at 11 pm. I accompanied the family to CLT to ensure everyone's safety given the recent surge of xenophobia and Trump’s massive deportation raids. Luckily, we were able to get Abuela home with no problems (except she may have caught a cold!) We spent the next few hours catching up and unpacking the 75 pounds of food she'd brought home in her carry-on and checked bag.

Abuela with her three grown children

How many Hondurans can you fit in one kitchen? (Answer: as many as you've got!)

Then, yesterday, in solidarity with my boyfriend's family and the broader immigrant community in East Charlotte, I participated in the A Day Without Immigrants action. For this reason, I did not make purchases, attend classes, go to work, or even check my email. Instead, I took I-77 to la casa and helped my mom host her entire side of the family at their house, cooking and cleaning and celebrating Abuela’s arrival. No one went to work. Instead, they all gathered around grandma, threw a million questions her way, ate the fish she had brought north with her, blasted music, played cards, and smiled like crazy.

My boyfriend's Mom stole a photo

Although our family and almost everyone in the neighborhood participated, the movement did not gain as much traction as it could have. Since it was primarily publicized on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, it is possible that certain sectors of the population (such as older demographics) who do not use social media did not hear about the boycott/strike in time to participate. Those who were aware of it could not necessarily participate. The strike was organized last-minute, undoubtedly inhibiting the participation of some who could not make arrangements in time. Others cannot afford to miss a day of work and could not join the strike due to pressing financial need. With more advance notice, these immigrants could have saved enough to participate in la huelga while still providing for their families. All in all, the planned action would have been more effective if it had been able to mobilize everyone in the immigrant community. That’s why another Día Sin Inmigrantes is being planned for May 1st. According to the New York Times, an immigrant advocacy group called Cosecha (which means “harvest” in Spanish) is organizing it. Until then, we will keep fighting la lucha, continuing to struggle. Because as long as Dr. King has a dream and I have a say, I will fight to ensure undocumented immigrants are #HereToStay.

 

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