On 'A Day Without Immigrants,' workers take to US streets

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  • Small armies of demonstrators miss work and march along bustling US streets
  • National "A Day Without Immigrants" seeks to highlight contributions of newcomers

(CNN)Throngs of foreign-born cooks, dishwashers, busboys, cleaners, carpenters, delivery workers and their supporters took to the streets Thursday in what activists hope will become a burgeoning grass-roots movement against President Donald Trump's hard-line immigration policies.

Chanting "Yes we can" and waving hand-scrawled signs, small armies of demonstrators missed work and marched along bustling city streets from New York to Los Angeles during a national "A Day Without Immigrants" intended to highlight the contributions of the immigrant community in the US.
"We play a huge part in this country's economy because all we do is work to get ahead," Trinidad Macias, owner of Taqueria Los Jaliscienses in Austin, Texas, told CNN affiliate KXAN. "If we don't produce, if we get deported, and don't show up, what's gonna happen? This country will collapse, because who's gonna do our kinds of jobs? No one."
    In Chicago, many restaurants and businesses shut their doors as hundreds held a rally at Union Park before marching south to Federal Plaza.
    "It has been said that we have been a sleeping giant," Jorge Mujica, an activist with the community organization Arise Chicago, told CNN affiliate WLS. "I don't think we are sleeping. We are working."
    News of the protests spread quickly via word of mouth and social media posts under the hashtag #ADayWithoutImmigrants, which called for participants to skip work and school, close businesses and avoid making any purchases.
    One Facebook post was directed at Trump: "Mr. President, without us and our contributions the country will be paralyzed."
    The economic impact of the protests was not immediately clear.
    Gustavo Carrillo chose not to make make grocery deliveries across Chicago. "We are not criminals," he told WLS. "We come to this country just to work hard for our families."
    In the nation's capital, demonstrators marched from Mount Pleasant to the White House. They carried signs with messages such as "Immigrants We Get The Job Done" and "They Will Not Build Borders in Our Community," CNN affiliate WJLA reported.

    Estimated 20k people walking through uptown @charlotteagenda #daywithoutimmigrants

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    In Charlotte, North Carolina, some streets had to be shut down after thousands of marchers blocked roads and stopped traffic, CNN affiliate WSOC-TV reported.
    There are about 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the United States, according to the Pew Research Center. The workforce included 8 million unauthorized immigrants in 2014.