A Day Without Immigrants in Des Moines Was Anything But

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DES MOINES, Iowa - "A Day Without Immigrants" - the idea was for the Latino community to disappear, showing the rest of the nation what it's like without them.

But the rally at the Iowa State Capitol made it impossible not to notice these people.

"This is more than we were expecting to come, like people, to show up today," said Manuel Galvez, an organizer. "This is part of a national movement to show that we are part of this country, and we want to send a message to the political people that we are part of this country."

Organizers in Des Moines expected around 500 people to join in a march on the State Capitol; instead, they saw a crowd of over 2,000. These demonstrations happened in several U.S. cities across the country today, encouraging Latinos to protest the Trump Administration's proposed border wall and crackdown on illegal immigration.

"Actually started out with him texting me. I already knew prior that it was a day, #ADayWithoutImmigrants, but he was texting me," said Iowa State University student, Julissa Garcia, who came with her friend, Erick Estrada. "He was like, 'Let's go!' And I was actually planning to go to classes, but I was like, 'Why not?' I feel like we need to show our support as immigrants."

Young and old alike gathered along East Grand Avenue for the march Thursday morning at 11. Some people young enough to hardly understand the issues in America's political dialogue.

"It says we love immigrants. I have a heart, we put a flag on it, and a smile right there," said eight-year-old Monse Cabrera, who came with her father and siblings, and made a sign for the march. "I'm with my dad, because he's from Mexico."

The day asks supporters to close businesses, keep their kids from school, not go to work, and not buy anything from stores. More than 100 businesses in Iowa reported they were taking part. In Des Moines' Latino neighborhood, off East Grand Avenue, most businesses had the lights off.

"Coming from a family of immigrants, who my grandparents who came here for a reason, and seeing somebody who wants to block us off, is definitely saddening," Garcia said. "Because we don't come here to definitely take away opportunities, instead we come here to make opportunities."

These protesters say they're hoping for immigration reform, rather than a wall and mass deportations.

"This is the spirit of this country," Galvez said. "This is the soul of this country! We are an immigrant country!"


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