A mail carrier passes a closed bakery Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017, in south Philadelphia’s Italian Market. In an action called “A Day Without Immigrants”, immigrants across the country are expected to stay home from school and work on Thursday to show how critical they are to the U.S. economy and way of life.

In a show of solidarity, immigrants around the country stayed home from work and school Thursday to demonstrate how important they are to America’s way of life—and America’s economy. The nationwide protest has been called A Day Without Immigrants, reported the Associated Press.

The effects have been felt most strongly by the restaurant industry, which employs nearly 12 million people with immigrants making up the majority—that applies to both fast food and fine dining. The number increases to 70% in cities the major cities like New York, according to the Restaurant Opportunities Center United.

The protest has been aimed at President Donald Trump’s efforts to crack down on immigration, both legal and illegal.

Historically, the food industry has been a first step toward a financially stable life for newcomers to America. Immigrants who have been able to open successful restaurants and grocery stores often started as dishwashers, servers and line cooks in other restaurants.

All over the country, typically bustling dining districts in places like Boston, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and D.C. were reported quiet.

The economic impact has not yet been calculated, but in the food business, it’s clear—we rely on each other.

“It’s actually very sad,” said Rani Vasudeva, a professor at Temple University told the Associated Press. “You realize the impact the immigrant community has. We need each other for our daily lives.”

 

(h/t The Associated Press)

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Meghan is a full-time writer exploring the fun facts behind food. She lives a healthy lifestyle but lives for breakfast, dessert and anything with marinara. She’s thrown away just as many meals as she’s proud of.