On Thursday opponents of President Trump’s stance on illegal immigration took to the streets, leaving jobs and businesses closed for “A Day Without Immigrants” to show the effect that illegal immigrants have in America each day.
Here in North Carolina, dozens of businesses statewide closed either because they were standing in solidarity with the immigrant community, or because of threats from protest supporters to pull their money from the businesses, an organizer of the protest said on Thursday.
For example, Compare Foods, a small chain of grocery stores, planned on keeping its seven locations closed in the state on Thursday.
Students were also missing from their classrooms; some were apparently present at a rally with their families.
One rally in Moore Square drew a few hundred people Thursday morning. David Salazar with Si A Las Licencias NC, an organization that advocates for driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants in the state, said that the goal of the rally and the walkout was to show politicians the effect that illegal immigrants have in the state each day.
“[We want to] let politicians know, and especially Donald Trump know, that our economy counts in this country and especially this state,” Salazar said. “The undocumented pay $266 million a year in taxes here to the state on North Carolina. So today by doing this, one day without immigrants, the state of North Carolina will not receive almost three-quarters of a million dollars in taxes – plus all the places that are shut down, all that taxes the state will not receive today.
“Our economy counts,” he continued. “We are building anything that is being built here in Raleigh, Greensboro, Charlotte. You go out there and look at it, it is nothing but immigrants, and especially Latino immigrants. So we are buildings, we do make America great.”
Salazar said that one of the main reasons for the protest was against President Donald Trump’s rhetoric against illegal immigration, but much of the talk yesterday focused on Gov. Roy Cooper’s lack of public support for the illegal immigrant community.
“We expect Gov. Cooper’s support because the Latino vote is why he is in that office,” Salazar said. “He cannot deny that. I personally told him that the Latino vote is what put him there. So we want him to come out just like all of the politicians around the nation, to come out and be on our side. We build America so the government, America overall, needs us.”
Salazar said that the way to fix the issue is for Trump to back off of his sharp stance on illegal immigration and to make a pathway for illegal immigrants to work in America legally.
“The way to fix this is for Trump to stop attacking us. And if these people want to get some kind of work permit – a lot of us are not interested in citizenship, some are – but the people here want to just work correctly and have a driver’s license,” he said. “That’s the other thing that we want to ask Gov. Cooper – get us a driver’s license for the undocumented.”
Salazar blames stringent national policies on immigration for the number of illegal immigrants in America and says that the nation needs to model its laws more after Canada, where obtaining a visa is easier.
“The policies that the U.S. implements worldwide make it very hard for anyone to come here with a vise, believe me if there was a way to come her with a visa they would all have a visa right now,” he said. “You see a lot of Mexicans in Canada. Why? Because Canada made it easy for the Mexicans to go there. They need the hard labor out there.
“So if the United States would do the same thing we would have better control over anything that we do here. We need something, but we definitely don’t need any more attacks. Trump has been attacking our community since the first day he was campaigning.”
NC Listen is an immigration reform advocacy organization that supports enforcement against illegal immigration.
“The people who are pushing this are making misleading comments,” he said. “I think right off the bat they are being dishonest. If they break our laws, then they are illegal. They are saying nobody is illegal, so the laws don’t matter.”
Woodard said that each country has the power to control its own borders and handle immigration as it sees fit to.
“Every country has a right to control its borders – even Mexico has said that,” he said. “The United Nations has said that every nation has the power to control their borders.”
Woodard says that illegal immigrants are being dishonest when they try to equate themselves to legal immigrants who went through the proper system to get to America.
“Coming across our border, committing identity theft and taking a job that belongs to someone else is not someone that we should look up to,” he said. “There are over 7.1 billion people on the face of the earth and only 4 percent of the people in the world live in America, so, yeah, not everyone can live here.
“It’s always going to be hard to get in because 96 percent of the people in the world don’t live here. We’re already bringing in more people than we can find jobs for, we are already bringing in more people than anyone else in the world, but we can’t take everyone.”