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US cities to hold 'Day Without Immigrants' protests

Organisers in Philadelphia, Washington, Boston, Chicago and New York tell immigrants to miss class and work.

Many immigrants across the United States are expected to stay at home from school and work for a day to show how critical they are to the country's economy and way of life.

Organisers in cities across the US are telling immigrants to miss class, work and not to shop on Thursday.

"A Day Without Immigrants" actions are planned in cities including Philadelphia, Washington, Boston, Houston, Chicago and New York.

The protest, that gained momentum on social media and by word of mouth, comes in response to US President Donald Trump, whose administration has pledged to increase the deportation of immigrants living in the country illegally.

Trump campaigned on a promise to build a wall along the US-Mexico border, and blamed high unemployment on immigration. As president, he has tried to introduce a temporary ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries entering the US.

Employers and institutions in some cities were already expressing solidarity on Wednesday with immigrant workers.

Organisers in Philadelphia said they expected hundreds of workers and their families to participate.

"Our goal is to highlight the need for Philadelphia to expand policies that stop criminalising communities of colour," said Erika Almiron, executive director of Juntos, a nonprofit group that works with the Latino immigrant community.

"What would happen if massive raids did happen? What would the city look like?" 

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney is among leaders in several cities who have vowed to maintain their "sanctuary city" status and declined to help federal law enforcement with deportation efforts.

Some of Washington DC's restaurants are also closing for the day in solidarity with the protesters.

"For one single day on a weekday, we must come together and unite in absolute resistance in order to reject the system dictating the launch from dehumanisation and blatant oppression of those that are not straight, white, natural-born citizens," reads the social media call to action.

The shutdown aims to show the world "how crucial we are to the basic fundamentals of the United States' economy", the Facebook post said.

Restaurants in New York and Philadelphia have also said they will participate in the one-day protests.

The call to boycott comes after last week's series of immigration raids that rounded up almost 680 people - three-quarters of them with a criminal record - for expulsion.

At least 11 million people live in the US without the required documentation.

Undocumented immigrants make up about 9 percent of employees in the hotel and restaurant industry in 2014, according to the Pew Research Centre.


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