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Businesses close across US to show support for immigrants

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Protesters rally against President Donald Trump's immigration policies near the Texas State Capital in Austin on Thursday, February 16, 2017. (AFP photo)

Many US businesses have closed across the country as thousands of protestors took to the streets to rally against President Donald Trump's immigration policies.

Protest organizers urged immigrants to skip work and class and asked businesses to close on Thursday as a way to show the country how important they are to America's economy and way of life.

Activists called "A Day Without Immigrants" to highlight the importance of foreign-born naturalized US citizens, who account for 13 percent of the US population, or more than 40 million people.

Businesses and institutions in some cities closed out of solidarity with immigrant workers. In Washington, more than 50 restaurants were closed, including high-end eateries.

At the US Defense Department, about half a dozen food outlets were forced to close after staff members joined the protest, a Pentagon spokesman said.

Trump signed an executive order on January 27 temporarily banning entry to the United States by travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries and all refugees. That order was put on hold by federal courts.

The sudden implementation of the order plunged the immigration system into chaos, sparking a wave of criticism from targeted countries, Washington's allies and some of America's leading corporations, especially technology firms, which lean heavily on talented immigrants.

The US Justice Department said Thursday that Trump will replace his executive order with a new one in the near future.

Trump’s administration says the ban is necessary for US national security in the face of what it calls terror threats from the seven countries.

US immigration authorities also arrested hundreds of people suspected of being in the country illegally during immigration raids last week, sparking condemnation from immigrant rights groups.

"Our community is frightened and cannot speak out," a 44-year-old undocumented business owner told Reuters. "Things are very bad for us with the new president."

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