What to know about 'Day Without Immigrants' protest in Portland, U.S.

What we know about the one-day immigrant strike in Portland and across the country. 

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On Thursday, many legal and undocumented immigrants across the United States stayed home from work to protest federal immigration policies as part of “Day Without Immigrants.”

The protest followed President Donald Trump's stated changes in immigration policies, including a court-blocked executive order restricting travel from seven primarily Muslim countries, his pledge to build a wall along the U.S. – Mexico border, and recent roundups of undocumented immigrants.

Trump claims the policies and actions make Americans safer, but critics say they are counterproductive and negatively impact American people. To show how vital immigrants are to the economic success of the country, foreign-born residents – legal and undocumented – participated in a one-day strike.

Here’s what we know about the protest and the impact of immigrants in both Portland and the United States.

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What is the protest’s impact around Portland?

In the Portland area, some businesses closed in solidarity with immigrant workers while others remained open but donated proceeds to nonprofits.

KGW confirmed at least a dozen businesses closed. Most were restaurants and cafes, including Por Que No Taqueria, Revolucion Coffee House and Du’s Grill. Retail shop Goumi Kids also shuttered for the day, as did construction company Double J Construction and mortgage broker Mortgage Café Northwest.

Other shops remained open but donated proceeds to nonprofits

Some schools also reported lower attendance records. The Salem-Keizer school district said its absentee rate Thursday was twice the rate of the prior week.

What’s happening across the U.S.?

It’s hard to measure the full impact of the Day Without Immigrants protest, but cities across the country were reporting closures across many sectors of business, including restaurants, retail shops, and even schools.

Portland’s impact was less noticeable than other cities with larger immigrant populations. In the Dallas area, nearly 50 businesses closed, according to the Dallas Morning News.

In Grand Rapids, Michigan, so many students stayed home from school that the district will likely have to count the day as a snow day.  

While many stayed home, other immigrants went to work by choice or necessity. A Vocativ report collected social media posts from immigrants and people who work with immigrants about how vital immigrants are to businesses.   

Twitter flooded with #DayWithoutImmigrants posts from across the country.

How much do immigrants contribute to the economy?

About two-thirds (65.2 percent) of foreign-born residents participated in the labor force, which is three percentage points higher than native-born people. They make about $150 less per week than native-born residents, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

The federal bureau reported foreign-born workers were more likely to work in the service industry, or construction, maintenance, production, moving and transportation occupations.

A George Mason University study showed foreign-born households contribute more than $100 billion in income tax revenue. 

More: Stats on ‘Day Without Immigrants’

How many immigrants are in the U.S.?

There are 26.3 million foreign-born people living in U.S., which comprises 16.7 percent of the country’s population, according to 2015 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That includes both legal and undocumented immigrants. Of that number, almost half (48.8 percent) were Hispanic and a quarter (24.1 percent) were Asian. 

Less than half of foreign-born people are undocumented – 11.1 million in 2014, according to the Pew Research Center

Other significant groups of undocumented immigrants include Canada (100,000), Africa (275,000) and Europe (500,000).  

How many undocumented immigrants are in Oregon?

The Pew Research Center reports there are about 130,000 undocumented immigrants in Oregon. That’s down from a high of 150,000 in 2007, but up from just 25,000 in 1990.

Oregon’s undocumented immigrant population is far lower than Texas, California, Florida and New York, which each have between 500,000 and 2,350,000 undocumented immigrants.

What’s the impact of Day Without Immigrants?

It’s yet to be seen whether the one-day strike will impact federal immigration policy. At a press conference Thursday, President Trump said his administration would work to replace the travel ban after an appeals court upheld a temporary restraining order of the ban.

Trump has also reiterated his desire to build a wall on the Mexican border and crack down on undocumented immigrants living I the U.S. At the Thursday press briefing Trump did say he struggles over how to address immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and are protected under the DACA policy. He said some are “gang members and drug dealers” but most are “incredible kids.”

KING 5's Natalie Brand reports.


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