February 14th is known to most as Valentine’s Day, a day of celebrating all the different kinds of love in our lives, today is also the day of the annual ‘A Day Without Immigrants’ rally at the White House in Washington, D.C. First held in 2006, it has since gained momentum and attention following former President Donald Trump’s border wall construction, child-family separation policies, and harmful comments toward the Latinx community both on the campaign trail and in office. Starting at 10 a.m. this morning, hundreds of protestors gathered peacefully in front of the White House to demonstrate the importance of immigrants in the U.S. Demonstrators and activists also hope that the rally puts pressure on Congress and President Biden for much-needed and overdue reform for immigrants everywhere, especially those who are undocumented.
“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,” Daniel Perez Listón, Professor of Finance at the University of St. Thomas, told NBC San Diego.
He also added that of 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. today, about 7 to 8 million of them are in the labor force and have no health benefits. Though undocumented immigrants are the backbone of many industries throughout the country and pay taxes on all levels, they are also more vulnerable to horrendous work conditions, harsh treatment, and lack of legal protection. Which is why many stay silent even when faced with situations of injustice either in their housing or work environments.
All of this still remains under President Biden’s presidency, even though he ran his campaign and targeted eligible Latinx voters on the promise that he would create a more accessible path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. A year after he was sworn into office, virtually nothing has changed, even though the pandemic has shown how much the country relies on their labor.
The sentiment is felt all across the country, including nearby Pennsylvania where an immigrant rally was being held in solidarity with Washington, D.C. “Most of us in the immigrant-rights movement here in Pennsylvania feel like the Biden administration has failed us,” said Andy Kang, executive director of the Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. “We haven’t seen the White House commit to a different vision of immigration, one that isn’t based on locking people up.”
Immigrants, both documented and undocumented, have every right to call this country home. Not only are they invaluable to the country’s economy, culture, and lifeblood, but they are also human beings who deserve dignity and respect in all aspects of their lives, and to live without fear of deportation. Hopefully, today’s rally in Washington, D.C. and across the country will show President Biden and his administration that we haven’t forgotten his promises. But no matter what happens, we’ll keep on fighting.