With his laptop before him on the bar at Mission Taqueria, Jesse Bacon, 39, picked at his salsa and chips. He chose to patronize this Center City restaurant, he said, because it gave its Latino staff the day off, with pay, in support of the "Day Without Immigrants" protest.

For Thursday's one-day national strike, businesses owned or staffed by immigrants were urged to close and their foreign-born workers to stay home as a show of opposition against President Trump's immigration policies.

Mission Taqueria embraced the protest, said Bacon, "instead of treating it like a negative thing to be suffered."

The message on the back of the day's limited menu reinforced the point.

"Immigrants make America great," it read. "They also happen to make and serve a lot of the food you enjoy here. … Today, however, our immigrant work force is making a brave gesture by simply staying home, [giving] us a glimpse of what life might be like without them."

Immigrants and their advocates made their presence, or lack thereof, known coast to coast. Restaurants from New York City to San Francisco closed for the day; so did grocery stores, food trucks, coffee shops, diners, and taco joints in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Boston. In Washington, a Senate coffee shop shut down when employees didn't show up.

"The really important dynamic to note is, this is not antagonistic, employee against employer," said Janet Murguia, president of the Hispanic-rights group National Council of La Raza. "This is employers and workers standing together, not in conflict."

She added, "Businesses cannot function without immigrant workers today."

Since the end of 2007, the number of foreign-born workers employed in the United States has climbed by nearly 3.1 million to 25.9 million, according to the Labor Department. They account for about 16 percent of the workforce.

Signs of the strike were visible across the Philadelphia region -- at shuttered Mexican specialty shops on West Marshall Street in Norristown, at Philadelphia eateries that either locked their doors or limited their service, at two dozen closed beauty salons and restaurants in Atlantic City, and on the understaffed mushroom farms of Kennett Square, where most of the workers are from Mexico and Central America.

Many restaurants that closed for the protest posted signs.

"We have chosen to close for lunch to support this campaign," wrote Michael Schulson and Nina Tinari-Schulson, owners of Sampan and Graffiti Bar in Center City. "These are dedicated and hard-working individuals who make this great country better and we unequivocally support them."

Chris Alonzo, owner of Pietro Mushrooms in Kennett Square and chairman of the Chester County Agricultural Development Council, said one-fourth of his 60-person staff did not come to work Thursday morning. At some farms in and around Kennett, he said, as much as 80 percent of the workforce was missing -- absences that affected "truck drivers, people who apply water, pickers, every job needed for any agricultural operation."

He and other farm owners have been lobbying in Harrisburg and Washington to draw attention to the need for a new guest worker program that would allow these laborers -- whose work is "critical to the nation's food security," Alonzo said -- to come and go legally between the U.S. and their homelands.

Even as demonstrators were assembling for a noon rally opposite City Hall, word was coming in of more restaurants supporting the cause. The Rose Tattoo Cafe on Callowhill Street said it would be closed. Ditto for Frida and Plaza Garibaldi in South Philadelphia.

St. Benjamin Brewing Co. on North Fifth Street offered a 10 percent discount to anyone who came in with a protest sign, and pledged to donate 10 percent of beer and food sales to the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians, which connects documented immigrants with prospective employers.

Speaking at the rally, Maria Serna, founder of a group that seeks driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants, said hard-working immigrants should be treated with dignity because their labor is essential to America's economy.

Also among the 50 people who showed up was Jasmine Rivera. She said the point of the "Day Without Immigrants" was to show the nation how important immigrants are to industries like food service and agriculture.

But what about people who say those jobs should be filled by native-born workers?

"I'd say they have a very short memory," said Rivera, "because a few years ago the United Farmworkers Union had a campaign called 'Take My Job,' and almost no Americans showed up. The ones that did lasted a day."

Sarah Hormell, 36, a server at the Rittenhouse Square restaurant Parc, said she came to the rally "because to me, our country is about diversity and pluralism. … What I wanted to do was honor the friends that I work with, that I've learned from."

A decade ago, on May 1, 2006, hundreds of thousands of immigrants and their supporters skipped work, school, and shopping, and marched in dozens of cities to oppose stricter controls on immigration. Lettuce, tomatoes, and grapes went unpicked in California and Arizona fields. Some meatpacking plants were forced to suspend operations. The idea was conceived by activists in Los Angeles and spread through social media.

Social media played a key role this time, too, with such figures as Washington celebrity chef Jose Andres championing the cause on Twitter and Facebook. Andres is battling Trump in court because the Spanish-born chef pulled out of his planned restaurant at Trump's Washington hotel after candidate Trump repeatedly disparaged Mexicans. Andres' five restaurants in the district were closed Thursday.

Promoters of the "Day Without Immigrants" cited data published by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center to show that the number of immigrants living illegally in America -- 11.1 million in 2014 -- is down from the all-time high of 12.2 million in 2007.

Immigrants in the Philadelphia Area

More than one out of every 10 people in the Philadelphia area are immigrants, totaling more than a half million residents, according to the most recent Census Bureau estimates. The top country of origin is India, with 59,831 residents, followed by China (39,936), Mexico (39,635), Vietnam (27,041), and Korea (23,311).
The map below shows the percent of the population who were born outside of the United States by municipality in the suburbs and by census tract within Philadelphia. Click on the map for details on the top five places of birth for each area.

SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau, 2011-15 American Community Survey
Staff Graphic

Critical points that may be lost on some skeptics, the organizers say, are that not every immigrant who participated in the strike is here illegally, and that a business' support should not be interpreted as a sign that it employs undocumented workers.

In Atlantic City,  the 20 or so businesses that participated in the strike are owned by immigrants from Mexico, Peru, and El Salvador. Among them were Queen's Pizza on Atlantic Avenue, El Charro on Arctic Avenue, and Premier Beauty, a salon on North Georgia Avenue in the city's historic Ducktown neighborhood, settled by Italian immigrants.

A sign on the salon's window, just above a flier for the city's youth soccer league, read:  "No Abrimos" -- not open.

By nightfall in Philadelphia, about 150 immigrants and their children packed a meeting room at the South Sixth Street office of Juntos, a Latino advocacy group. They spoke of fears for the future of an Obama-era program that protects some undocumented youths from deportation, and said that even in the "sanctuary city" of Philadelphia, immigration enforcement actions "are dividing families every day."

Juntos' leaders told the group to be ready to go on strike again, in a nationwide mobilization planned for May 1.

Then Juntos member Carlos Rojas led the group outdoors for an impromptu "mini-march" in the neighborhood.

Progressing up Tasker Street from Sixth, they chanted in Spanish: "The people, united, will never be defeated."

Staff writers Julie Shaw, Michaelle Bond, Michael Klein,  Jane M. Von Bergen, and Amy S. Rosenberg contributed to this article, which also contains information from the Associated Press.