A nationwide movement to pause immigrant labor has been planned for Valentine’s Day, in an attempt to raise awareness for immigration reform.

Valentine’s Day has been strategically selected for the “Day Without Immigrants” protest, as it is a day where an abundance of consumer spending occurs, through labor that is often carried out by immigrants.

As of this writing, more than 2,600 businesses across the U.S. have pledged to close for the day in solidarity with the protest.

Carlos Eduardo Espina has spearheaded the protest efforts, leveraging his 2.5 million TikTok followers into a movement that has garnered lots of attention from Spanish-speaking media. Espina has been posting videos not just of the protest, but about immigration reform efforts, or what he believes is a lack thereof.

“This is a movement that arose from, essentially… the frustrations of thousands, possibly millions of immigrants in the country who are tired of the lies, tired of the false promises and nothing being done on the topic of immigration,” Espina told L.A. Weekly. “I was someone who really used my platform in 2020 to support Joe Biden. All 2021 happened and nothing happened. We waited patiently and no progress was made. Everything remained the same.”

Espina expressed that he and many of his followers have felt frustration over the Biden administration, with what they feel are unfulfilled promises to address immigration reform.

The “Day Without Immigrants” movement has received notable support from the likes of actor Mark Ruffalo and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, as well as more than 93,000 members of a Facebook group created by the protest’s organizers.

Locally, a community organization called Immigo L.A. has helped push the efforts for “A Day Without Immigrants” and is organizing marches in Los Angeles.

“Immigrants contribute a great deal of labor to this country,” Magybet Mendez, founder of Immigo told L.A. Weekly. “We are seeing the youth self-mobilize to get the message across. We’re living in this new era where the message travels a lot quicker online. It’s pretty exciting to see that the youth are very actively participating in this campaign.”

Los Angeles will be holding two separate marches, the first being held outside the Hall of Justice at 9 a.m. and the second being held outside Los Angeles City Hall at 10 a.m.

Concurrently, marches and rallies have been scheduled across the country, from right outside the White House gates in Washington D.C., to the Capitol Mall in Sacramento and several cities in between.

Despite the efforts of the protest and rallies, Espina knows that it is not going to be possible for many to miss a day of work, but he hopes the movement is used as a means to catapult the conversation around immigration reform, forward.

“The main purpose is to… get people energized again, because right now the morale around immigration reform is on the floor and we want to lift that morale up,” Espina said. “We hope that February 14 is not the end of something, but the beginning of something.”

Marches Scheduled in Los Angeles, CA

Hall Of Justice
Time: 9 a.m.
Address: 211 W Temple St.

City Hall
Time: 10 a.m.
Address: 200 N Spring St.

LA Weekly