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The nationwide event is a combination of a protest and a strike. It is in response to President Donald Trump's immigration agenda, which has included a pledge to build a wall along the Mexican border and enact a travel ban on citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries.
"The purpose of the protest is to show just how disruptive immigration changes by the government could impact consumers' everyday life," Darren Tristano, president of Technomic, told CNBC. "For McDonald's franchisees and company stores, it is likely best to close the restaurant versus trying to manage the restaurant with an inadequate service staff. Although many customers will see this is an inconvenience, many will understand."
McDonald's first quarter sales could be affected by these closures, as it already faces difficult comparisons with first quarter 2016, which benefited from an extra day on Feb. 29. Same-store sales were up 5.4 percent that quarter, fueled by value deals and all-day breakfast.
Representatives from McDonald's did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment.
Social media users took to Twitter on Thursday to report closures:
Not all social media users were pleased with the chain's closures:
In cities around the country, restaurants are closing their doors for one day to stand with immigrants and give their staff the opportunity to attend marches. Including Andy Shallal, founder of Busboys and Poets, a restaurant, bar and bookstore chain located in D.C., Virginia and Maryland.
"First off, I am an immigrant myself," he told CNBC. "There are pivotal moments when standing on the sidelines is not an option. This is one of those moments. This is why I decided to close all Busboys and Poets locations on Thursday, Feb. 15 in solidarity with 'A Day Without Immigrants.'"
Brothers Eric and Bruce Bromberg, who have been in the culinary industry for more than 20 years, decided to shutter their Blue Ribbon restaurants on Thursday "in solidarity" with their employees.
"When employees who haven't missed a day of work in nearly 25 years come to you and ask for a day off to march against injustice, the answer is easy," they said in a joint statement.