Fact Check

Day Without Immigrants

E-mail suggests a countermeasure to the proposed 'Day Without Immigrants' protest.

Published Apr 27, 2006

Claim:   E-mail suggests a countermeasure to the proposed "Day Without Immigrants" protest.

Status:   Multiple — see below.

Example:   [Collected via e-mail, 2006]

On Monday May 1, 2006 the illegal aliens are threatening to do absolutely no shopping of any kind. They want to show America how powerful their numbers are by staying home and by not spending their money at the stores; to show us how much we need them.

In response, every American should go to at least one store and buy at least one item. It doesn't take much of our time or money. Let's send our message out that we won't be pushed around and bullied. If Americans don't do something, and just stand around and watch these aggressive demands WE ARE GOING TO LOSE OUR COUNTRY IN OUR LIFETIME.

Shop on May 1 - and pass this on to all your friends and relatives

Origins:   Divisive

political issues such as the current debate over immigration reform often spawn symbolic protests intended to demonstrate the unity and strength of one side or the other. One such protest that has been proposed by immigrant rights supporters is a "Day Without Immigrants" scheduled for 1 May 2006, a boycott date on which immigrants would stay home from work and school and abstain from buying anything in order to visibly dramatize the importance of immigrants to the U.S. economy.

Beyond that simple explanation, anything else we might add is purely speculative. Will immigrants actually take part in such a boycott? Undoubtedly some will, but how widespread the participation will be is difficult to assess. Although delaying purchases for one day is generally simple enough for most consumers to do without hardship, workers and students are often leery of jeopardizing their jobs or grades for the sake of a symbolic protest unless they're reasonably sure overall participation will be large enough that they will not suffer a significant penalty as a result. And even immigrant rights groups are split over whether the "Day Without Immigrants" scheme is a good idea, fearing that having supporters risk their jobs and grades would be counterproductive and could create a chaotic backlash that might serve to antagonize the anti-immigrant movement.

The counter-protest suggested in the message quoted at the head of this page — urging non-immigrants to go out and buy something on the "Day Without Immigrants" — is one possible way of blunting the effect of the boycott, but its potential efficacy is also difficult to assess. Although some people might be motivated to buy something as an opposing form of protest, such shopping activity would only be an effective countermeasure if consumers made a point of spending above and beyond the regular purchases they might ordinarily have made that day. (That is, buying a quart of milk on May 1 doesn't demonstrate much of anything if you were already going to buy a quart of milk that day anyway.) Also, a key component of the "Day Without Immigrants" scheme recommends that supporters stay home from work and school that day, an aspect of the boycott that wouldn't specifically be blunted by other side's making additional retail purchases.

Last updated:   27 April 2006


  Sources Sources:

    Gilot, Louie.   "'Day Without Immigrants' Fails to Gather Steam in EP."

    El Paso Times.   20 April 2006.

    Watanabe, Teresa and Anna Gorman.   "Immigrants Divided on Boycott."

    Los Angeles Times.   20 April 2006   (p. B1).

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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