Watch LIVE

Businesses across the country close in solidarity with a 'Day Without Immigrants' protest

US
An American flag is seen next to a closed sign on a business in the Mission District as thousands closed their businesses to protest for immigrant rights May 1, 2006 in San Francisco, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Businesses across the country shut down Thursday to show their solidarity with workers protesting President Donald Trump's immigration stance.

The nationwide protest comes just one month after hundreds of Yemeni business owners in New York City closed their doors for half a day to protest Trump's executive order temporarily banning travel to the U.S. from seven Middle East countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

One of the business owners closing his doors Thursday is celebrity chef Jose Andres, who Trump sued after Andres pulled out of an agreement to open one of his restaurants at Trump's new Washington, D.C., hotel. Andres currently has five restaurants across the District of Columbia.

"This is a message of unity, really. I do believe we're in a moment that we need inclusion more than ever,” Andres told WUSA-TV.

A number of other D.C. businesses, including Circa, which operates five restaurants in Washington, D.C., and northern Virginia, also closed.

"Closing 2/16! We respect our team's decision to make their voices heard. It truly takes a team, and our teams are the heart of our company!" Circa tweeted Wednesday night.

Another popular local D.C. restaurant chain, Busboys and Poets, also announced Tuesday via Twitter that it would participate in what was being dubbed "#ADayWithoutImmigrants." Busboys and Poets has in the past advocated for a variety of progressive causes, according to Real Clear Politics. As recently as Tuesday, Busboys and Poets donated a portion of its proceeds to MPower Love to MPower Change, which the restaurant described on its blog as an "online organizing platform to build grassroots Muslim power while advancing social, spiritual, racial, & economic justice."

"In solidarity with our immigrant tribe we will close for the day on Thursday for our staff to join in #ADayWithoutImmigrants," the Busboys and Poets tweeted Tuesday.

In a separate tweet Tuesday, the restaurant noted that its founder, Andy Shallal, is an Iraqi immigrant.

The tweet played off Trump's "Make America Great Again" campaign slogan, saying that "immigrants make America great!"

"The issue of immigration is something that is being used as fodder by politicians to instill fear in the undocumented community. Right now, sitting on the sidelines is not enough," Shallal said, according to CNN.

But it's not just businesses in the nation's capital that closed Thursday. Dozens of establishments in New York City, Philadelphia and Boston also shut down for the day, according to AM New York.

Thanu Yakupitiyage, senior communications manager for the New York Immigration Coalition, said the protest could have a far-reaching impact in the nation's largest city: "If hundreds of thousands of immigrants stayed home from work, New York City would shut down."

Saru Jayaraman, co-founder of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, a New York City-based restaurant workers advocacy group, added, "Immigrants are the lifeblood of the restaurant industry."

In 2015, the majority of U.S. restaurant workers — 7.1 million — were immigrants while the minority — 5.1 million — were born in the U.S, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Restaurant Opportunities Centers United also launched the "sanctuary restaurant movement" last month. According to the group's website: "The project offers support and resources to restaurant workers, employers and consumers impacted by hostile policies and actions, including immigrants, Muslims, LGBTQI people and others."

Thursday's nationwide protest comes weeks after Trump issued an executive order temporarily banning travel to the U.S. from seven Middle East countries. A separate executive order would withdraw federal funds to so-called "sanctuary cities" that harbor illegal immigrants.

Just this week, federal authorities arrested hundreds of illegal immigrants as they conducted immigration raids in six states: California, Illinois, Georgia, New York, South Carolina and North Carolina. The raids were the first to take place since Trump took office and targeted immigrants with minor convictions or no convictions at all.

Previously, the Obama administration targeted for deportation only illegal immigrants who had committed serious criminal offenses.

Most recent
All Articles