PHILADELPHIA (AP/WTXF) - Immigrants around the country have been staying home from work and school today, hoping to demonstrate their importance to America's economy and its way of life. And many businesses closed in solidarity -- or because of a shortage of workers.
"We know that it's hard to close down a business in hard economic times like these knowing that at the end of the month there are bills to pay and it's a difficult decision to close today. But we also know it's necessary," said Carolina Torres.
Immigrant business owners all over the city and the country closed their doors Thursday for a work strike. Other businesses posted signs on their doors saying they stand with their immigrant neighbors by closing too.
On this day without immigrants Juntos, a group that fights for the rights of the Latino-immigrant community marched through South Philly. They want to draw attention to Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids in other cities. Some worry it could happen here.
"If everybody felt safe and that they weren't going to get dragged out of the city and their home, we should be thinking about ways to end deportation. What are ways that we can limit the access that federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement has to our cities and creating ICE free zones," said Erika Almiron, the Executive Director of Juntos. A 14-year of boy who attended the rally out of concern for what he fears could happen to his family.
"My parents are the only ones that can really take care of my siblings and I and if my parents get deported I will have to drop out of school and take care of them," said Edgar Villegas.
The group held signs bearing strong messages like stop detaining families and not one more deportation.
"What they want is a dignified job. They want to be treated with respect, they want funded schools and they want to be able to go home and see their families who they haven't seen for years," said Almiron.
While immigrant rights groups feel ICE is going after more people they feel are here illegally, ICE says this is business as usual and says they’ve carried out specific operations like this for many years.