February 16 was “A Day Without Immigrants” or “Un Día Sin Inmigrantes” in which immigrants across the country abstained from work, school, and shopping in an effort to show how valuable they are to our communities and our economy. In cities around the country, immigrants demonstrated in solidarity and spoke out against the recent ICE raids. On Long Island, over 250 immigrants living on the East End left their homes to march in solidarity along Montauk Highway.
The march was first planned when calls came in from a number of residents looking to demonstrate on “A Day Without Immigrants.” Organized by SEPA Mujer, the march was also supported by Planned Parenthood, Make the Road NY, Rural and Migrant Ministry, and Long Island Jobs with Justice.
“I’m here because I think everyone deserves to be here,” Kayla Ayala of Southhampton told 27East, “This land was made by immigrants and being a daughter of immigrants it’s sad to see how they are treated. Not everyone gets the privilege to be born here. And I just stand with them because I know what it’s like to be from a family with immigrants.”
There was a counter-protest halfway through the march on an opposite street of anti-immigration protesters, holding signs with slogans like “Deport Illegals” and “When They Jumped The Fence They Broke The Law.” This did little to deter the marchers, who began to chant “We Are American” in response.
Various members of the immigrant community felt strengthened and solidarity by fellow community members against the fear of recent ICE raids and executive orders. “People are asking, ‘When will you do this again?’” said Dulce Rojas of SEPA Mujer told 27East, “People are feeling empowered.”