The heart of Philadelphia's Italian Market was uncharacteristically quiet. Fine dining restaurants in New York, San Francisco and the nation's capital had closed for the day. Grocery stores, food trucks, coffee shops, diners and taco joints in places like Chicago, Los Angeles and Boston all had their shutters pulled down.

Day Without Immigrants
Day Without Immigrants
Day Without Immigrants
Day Without Immigrants

Immigrants around the US stayed away from work and school on Thursday (16 February) to demonstrate how important they are to American society and its economy. Many businesses closed in solidarity, in a nationwide protest called A Day Without Immigrants – a campaign to highlight the vital role that emigres play in American society, prompted by US President Donald Trump's stringent immigration policies.

Thousands on strike across US for ‘A Day Without Immigrants’ protest Reuters
Day Without Immigrants
Latino community members and leaders attend a news conference discussing US immigration policies and the safety of their families in PhiladelphiaJessica Kourkounis/Getty Images
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Morning Glory Diner with empty seats in PhiladelphiaJessica Kourkounis/Getty Images
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The Florida Avenue Grill restaurant is closed in Washington, DCMario Tama/Getty Images
Day Without Immigrants
A restaurant on Georgia Avenue is closed to mark the "Day Without Immigrants" protest in Washington, DCJim Bourg/Reuters
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A sign outside the Guelaguetza Mexican restaurant announces they are closed for the day in solidarity with the "Day Without Immigrants" strike in Los AngelesMark Ralston/AFP
Day Without Immigrants
La Sirena Mexican Art and Crafts store stands closed in solidarity with the "A Day Without Immigrants" boycott in New York CityDrew Angerer/ Getty Images
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A sign on the front of a restaurant announces it is closed for a "Day Without Immigrants" in Washington, DCMandel Ngan/AFP
Day Without Immigrants
A sign in the window of the popular Brooklyn restaurant Blue Ribbon explains their solidarity with the "A Day Without Immigrants," strike in Brooklyn, New YorkSpencer Platt/Getty Images

The protests were a reaction to Trump's plans to step up deportations, build a wall at the Mexican border and his executive order, which was put on hold by federal courts, that temporarily banned people from travelling to the United States from seven Muslim-majority countries. Immigrant rights' groups expressed alarm after federal raids last week in which more than 680 undocumented people were arrested.

Sympathy marches, rallies and protests were also held in North Carolina, Austin, Raleigh and Chicago, showing solidarity with those on strike.

Day Without Immigrants
A Vietnamese cafe and a drycleaning business is closed in New York CityDrew Angerer/ Getty Images
Day Without Immigrants
Businesses are closed as Latino immigrants across Philadelphia skip work on Thursday as part of a "Day Without Immigrants" campaign in PhiladelphiaJessica Kourkounis/Getty Images
Day Without Immigrants
A sign in the window of the popular restaurant Prime Meats explains their solidarity with the "A Day Without Immigrants," strike in Brooklyn, New YorkSpencer Platt/Getty Images
Day Without Immigrants
A man reads the notice on the door of a shuttered business in PhiladelphiaJessica Kourkounis/Getty Images
Day Without Immigrants
A person looks at a 'closed' sign in the window of the popular restaurant Blue Ribbon in Brooklyn, New YorkSpencer Platt/Getty Images
Day Without Immigrants
A woman is seen in front of a restaurant with a sign announcing that it is closed for a "Day Without Immigrants" in Washington, DCMandel Ngan/AFP
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A man walks past a business closed as part of the "Day Without Immigrants" strikeJessica Kourkounis/Getty Images

Hessel Duarte, a 17-year-old native of Honduras who lives in Austin, Texas, with his family skipped class at his high school to take part in one of several rallies held around the country. Speaking to the Associated Press, he said: "I fear every day whether I am going to make it back home. I don't know if my mom will make it home." Duarte explained he arrived in the US aged five to escape gang violence.

Organisers appealed to immigrants from all walks of life to take part, but the effects were felt most strongly in the restaurant industry, which has long been a first step up the economic ladder for newcomers to America with its many jobs for cooks, dishwashers, waiters and waitresses. Restaurant owners with immigrant roots of their own were among those acting in solidarity with workers.

It was unclear how many people participated in the strike and the protests, but in many cities, the protests were disruptive. More actions are being planned for 1 May — known as May Day, the internationally recognised holiday honouring workers.

Day Without Immigrants
Demonstrators march during the "Day Without Immigrants" protest in Washington, DCAaron P. Bernstein/Reuters
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Demonstrators march during the "Day Without Immigrants" protest in ChicagoTheopolis Waters/Reuters
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Anti-Trump protester Jonathan Gonzalez demonstrates in front of the J&F ice cream store (L) which closed for the day in solidarity with the "Day Without Immigrants" nationwide protests, in Los AngelesMark Ralston/AFP
Day Without Immigrants
Protesters march in the streets outside the Texas State Capital on "A Day Without Immigrants" in Austin, TexasDrew Anthony Smith/Getty Images
Day Without Immigrants
Demonstrators gather for a rally during the "Day Without Immigrants" protest in Washington, DCAaron P. Bernstein/Reuters