This story was originally reported by NBC 7’s sister station, Telemundo 20. To read the article in Spanish, click here.
Feb. 14 is almost around the corner and though it's often associated with hearts, love and all things romance, it will have a special meaning for immigrants in the U.S. thanks to a campaign that encourages them to stop their production and consumption activities on that day.
The "A Day Without Immigrants" campaign aims to create political pressure in Congress, calling on the country's leaders to create an immigration reform that would guarantee a status to the nation's more than 11 million undocumented immigrants.
“We are not going to school. We are not going to spend," a post from the campaign read. "Instead, we will take to the streets peacefully to raise our voices.”
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The purpose of the online-launched campaign, it says, is to make the government realize it is time for immigration reform.
“This is going to be absolute. Is this going to make Congress act? No, not immediately,” said immigration attorney Haim Vásquez.
A rally for the campaign, organized by Carlos Eduardo Espina, is scheduled for Monday at 10 a.m. outside the White House and in all major cities. Immigrants are encouraged to stop their activities for a day in support of the initiative.
These types of protests have been held in the past, “and it is done to try to create an importance of the immigrant people in the United States and how it affects the workforce,” Vásquez added.
The Internet has helped the message circulate. On Facebook, the group “A Day Without Immigrants” reached 60,000 members.
“The contributions of immigrants in this country can be seen everywhere. From those who harvest fruits and vegetables, to those who build houses, to those who develop innovative technological products, such as Tesla cars,” said Daniel Perez Listón, Professor of Finance at the University of St. Thomas.
According to the organizer's posts, Espina said he supported President Joe Biden's 2020 presidential campaign when he promised: “to work with Congress to create a road map to citizenship for the nearly 11 million people who have been living in our country and strengthening it for years.”
After a year into the presidency and not seeing these changes materialize, Espina said he has withdrawn his support.
According to Perez Listón, the impact of the campaign could be greater due to the pandemic.
"We are short on employees, so it could have a greater impact than in previous years," he said.
In the U.S., 14% of the population was born in another country. Of that total, 31 million immigrants are documented, while nearly 12 million are not authorized to stay in the country.
“Of those 11 million, some 7 to 8 million of them work in the labor force, without benefits,” said Perez Listón, who added that the Infrastructure Construction project included an immigration element. “But unfortunately, the Senate parliamentarian has removed any possibility that this part of immigration enters into that bill because it is not economic, she has determined it that way.”
Organizers will see on Monday what dimension the campaign reaches and if it resonates with the Biden administration and the Congress.