NEW YORK - Immigrant and union groups plan to march in cities across the U.S. on Monday to mark May Day and protest against President Donald Trump's efforts to boost deportations.
Tens of thousands of immigrants and their allies are expected to rally in cities such as New York, Chicago, Seattle and Los Angeles. Demonstrations also are planned for dozens of smaller cities from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, to Portland, Oregon.
In many places, activists are urging people to skip work, school and shopping to show the importance of immigrants in American communities.
While union members traditionally march on May 1 for workers' rights in countries around the world, the day has become a rallying point for immigrants in the U.S. since massive demonstrations were held on the date in 2006 against a proposed immigration enforcement bill. May Day, also called International Worker's Day, traditionally focused on workers' rights. But on Monday, other issues have come to the fore, including protests of police brutality, gay rights and immigrants' rights.
In recent years, immigrant rights protests shrank as groups diverged and shifted their focus on voter registration and lobbying. Larger crowds are expected to return this year as immigrant groups have joined with Muslim organizations, women's advocates and others in their united opposition to Trump administration policies.
"We have never seen such an outpouring of support since we have since the election of Donald Trump," said Kica Matos, a spokeswoman for the Fair Immigration Reform Movement.
The president on Friday proclaimed May 1 "Loyalty Day," which he billed as a means to "recognize and reaffirm our allegiance to the principles" that built the U.S., and advocated that all government buildings should display the American flag and for schools to support the effort.
Mr. Trump has aggressively pursued immigration enforcement, including executive orders for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and a ban on travelers from six predominantly Muslim countries. The government has arrested thousands of immigrants in the country illegally and threatened to withhold funding from jurisdictions that limit cooperation between local and federal immigration authorities.
In response, local leaders have vowed to fight back, and civic participation has seen a boost, including February's "Day Without Immigrants." The travel ban and sanctuary order were temporarily halted by legal challenges.
In addition to rallies, immigrant rights activists in communities in Indiana, Massachusetts, Texas and elsewhere are calling for strikes to show Americans the demand for immigrant labor and immigrants' purchasing power.
"On this day, we will not go to work. We will not go to school. We will not buy anything," said Francisca Santiago, a farmworker from Homestead, Florida.
Immigrant advocates said they hope their message will reach Mr. Trump, congressional lawmakers and the public, as well as provide a sense of unity and strength to those opposed to the administration's policies. In spite of the president's avowed crackdown on illegal immigration, many said they hoped a show of strength would help persuade politicians to rethink their plans.
Tom K. Wong, a professor of political science at University of California, San Diego, said the Trump administration's focus on immigration is generating more support for immigrant rights advocates.
"Every pivot back to the issue of immigration gives the immigrant rights movement another opportunity to make its best pitch to the public," he said.