The ‘Day Without Immigrants’ in the USA has led to large rallies and day-long business closures as many of the estimated 11.5 million illegal immigrants protested at the controversial efforts by some in the US Congress to introduce legislation effectively criminalising the illegal immigrant community. The Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform group opposed the work boycott, which was supported by the larger Mexican/ Latino lobby groups, but it did support the rallies.
The protest action was particularly felt by industries employing minimum wage workers across the States. The entire episode has once again highlighted how dependent American society (and increasingly other western societies like Ireland, north and south) is on the labour of the massive immigrant community for basic goods and for doing the jobs that ‘legal’ Americans simply don’t want to do. As one Farm Workers Union representative quipped: without the illegal immigrants, “Americans would not be eating fresh fruit and produce-” a point illustrated by the fact that the world’s largest meat producer, Tyson Foods, was forced to shut 9 of its 15 plants for the day.