Alvarado Street, a major Latino gathering spot in Los Angeles, saw many businesses closed on ‘A Day without Immigrants’. Jefferson Graham reports.
Some residents in all but a dozen states took part in a Día Sin Inmigrantes, a Day Without Immigrants, according to media reports.
The Thursday protest was organized nationwide in response to President Trump’s highly controversial executive orders and policies on immigration and to support undocumented immigrants who have become a target of the Trump administration. The one-day boycott can trace its roots to another strike May 1, 2006, when hundreds of thousands across the USA also stayed away from work and school in protest of Bush administration immigration reforms.
In 2015, about 26.3 million foreign-born people were working in the United States, 16.7% of the workforce, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Immigrants made up about 47% of the nation’s workforce expansion from 2004 through 2014, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Census estimates show that more than 13% of the U.S. population is foreign born, almost 43 million people. On Thursday, #DayWithoutImmigrants was one of the top trending topics on social media.
Here are scenes from across the USA:
More than 60 business around the state, home to Trump’s new Attorney General Jeff Sessions, closed in recognition of a Day Without Immigrants, The Birmingham (Ala.) News reported.
“It’s been really tough for people; they’re living in fear of being separated from their children and losing their homes,” said Joel Rivera, who owns the state’s largest grocery store and Birmingham’s WAYE-FM Spanish-language radio station. “I don’t mind losing money, and my employees don’t mind losing a day of work to show support and stand together with our community.”
In Phoenix, as many as a third of students skipped class in some schools.
“We didn’t want to promote it but we didn’t want to discount it because we know for some of our kids it’s an especially difficult time for them and their parents,” said spokesman Craig Pletenik of the Phoenix Union High School District. “We respect the right of students for self-expression and peaceful protest but we also know school is the best and most productive place for all of our students to be.”
Five high schools had 400 or more absences, school officials said.
In Springdale, about 150 miles northwest of Little Rock, more than a quarter of the students in Springdale Public Schools were absent from class in a district where usually only 6% to 8% are out, spokesman Rick Schaeffer told KHBS- and KHOG-TV, Fort Smith-Fayetteville, Ark.
More than a third of the city’s residents are Hispanic, according to the U.S. Census.
In Palm Springs, customers at at least one McDonald’s couldn’t place a drive-through order because the restaurant was short staffed after some workers called in sick.
Two wet floor signs were placed in the window’s lane with printed signs informing customers they needed to come inside to buy food.
“That made the line longer (inside),” said Alan Townsend, 23, of Palm Springs. “People were a little annoyed, a little impatient. All because someone called in sick.”
In Denver, the Colorado Restaurant Association advised its members not to discipline employees who missed work beyond docking them for a day’s pay.
“I think everyone has a First Amendment right to protest,” Adam Killian told The Denver Post as he arrived at Adelitas Cocina y Cantina to find it closed.
Killian said he was in support of the demonstration — even if it meant no lunch. He works in construction and said his crew was short about 20% of its workers Thursday.
In Hartford, manager Jackeline Alegre at family-owned Peruvian restaurant Vista Alegre said she learned about the demonstration from the restaurant’s delivery company when she was told Wednesday that it wouldn’t be making a delivery Thursday, she told the Hartford (Conn.) Courant.
She asked for more information, then met with the nearly dozen employees of the restaurant who hailed from Mexico, Colombia, Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico and Peru and were scheduled to work Thursday. They all agreed they would stay home.
“It’s usually very busy,” Jackeline Alegre said. “We’re all immigrants, but we have things to pay for, bills to pay, too. If we get everyone together, maybe we can make a change.”
In Delmar, a 10th of a mile from the border with Maryland, Delmar Pizza had managed to round up enough staff to open four hours later than usual despite a message on social media that read, “We will be closed today.”
“We weren’t open because we were understaffed,” said owner George Piperis said, explaining that at least half of his staff is Hispanic. “When you close a business down, what do you think? It had an economic impact.”
District of Columbia
While celebrity chef José Andrés, who pulled out of Trump International Hotel in July 2015 after the GOP presidential candidate disparaged undocumented Mexican immigrants as rapists, closed his restaurants for the Day Without Immigrants, the prep cooks from Guatemala and Venezuela at Little Red Fox cafe and market didn’t want to leave their employer high and dry as they took off to take part in the protests.
When owner Matt Carr came in Thursday morning, he found a note from the five women, three of whom wouldn’t be at work, saying that they did their chopping and mixing in advance.
“Fruit salad just needs blueberries,” they wrote. Carr and his wife, Jena, decided to donate 10% of the day’s sales to Ayuda, a 44-year-old organization that focuses on supporting immigrants in the Washington area.
In the Panhandle, more than 500 miles northwest of what people consider the state’s Latino hot spot of Miami, a crowd of 50 protesters gathered in downtown Pensacola, including those not of Hispanic ethnicity.
Anne Austin, who said she had never joined in public protests before Trump took office, said her daughter-in-law is from Colombia. Her 7-year-old grandson, who is a legal U.S. citizen, has told her that he is worried about Trump “separating families.”
“I am out here today for him,” she said.
In Naples, a teacher at Parkside Elementary School was transferred to administrative duties after writing a Facebook post celebrating mass deportations.
“The funny part about immigrants staying home is the rest of us who pay for them are here at work like we’ve always been,” posted Veronica Flemming, who runs a computer lab at the school were 96% of the students are minorities.
In Atlanta, about 100 demonstrators protested outside the Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices, holding signs and waving at cars that passed by.
Summer Parks Lepe marched with her children, saying that her husband, in the process of becoming a citizen, was too scared to come to the protest.
“It’s scary for my husband to have to wake up every day and be scared to go to work, and for them (the children) to be scared that they’re going to lose their father,” Lepe said. “So we’re fighting for that.”
In Chicago, the executive director of the west side’s Little Village Chamber of Commerce, Jaime di Paulo, told the Chicago Tribune that he had received numerous calls from Latino business owners asking whether they should close.
He told them no because it only would hurt the community, where a vast majority of stores and customers are Hispanic.
“The position of the chamber is that this an opportunity to shop Mexican,” he said. “Support your local Mexican businesses. Don’t be a fool and lose money.”
Dozens of businesses, including at least 50 restaurants throughout the city, did close in support of the protest.
Indianapolis, more than 250 people, many families with young children, met at a park to trek 3.5 miles to the Indiana State House, chanting “¡Sí Se Puede!” (“Yes, We Can!”) at times, responding to horns honking from cars passing by and holding signs.
One woman held a poster that read, “We don’t run America, but we make America run.” Another said, “Undocumented Unafraid and Unapologetic.” Children held ones that said, “I’m a human being,” and “Immigrants make America great.”
In Des Moines, 2,500 people marched to the Iowa Capitol with temperatures in the low 60s, according to Manuel Galvez, the editor of the Iowa City-based newspaper El Trueque who helped organize the event.
In addition, about 70 Latino businesses in Des Moines closed for the day to show solidarity with the marchers.
“We don’t talk about politics at the restaurant,” said Jean Thompson, a co-owner of Urban Grill and District 36 restaurants. “But we wholeheartedly support our staff, their families and their community.
Adriana Angel, who was born in California but raised in Jalisco, Mexico, after her parents returned to Mexico when her father lost his job, is trying to bring her parents to Iowa. She returned to the U.S. for work and joined the Des Moines march.
“I’m trying to get my parents here the legal way, but the process has been stalled so long,” she said.
In Louisville, Daniel Alvarez said he closed his law offices to stand in solidarity with immigrants.
“America is built on immigrants,” he said. “My parents came from Colombia, worked hard and lived the American dream.”
More than three dozen businesses in Kentucky and southern Indiana reported they were participating, according to a list compiled by Al Dia En America, a Spanish-language newspaper in Louisville.
Latin grocery chain Ideal Market decided to give employees in all of its nine locations in the New Orleans and Baton Rouge areas the day off with pay to support the protest.
“Me personally, I can come here and the sky’s the limit,” said Ideal Market worker Luis Garcia, who thinks everyone should be given the same chance. “Give them that opportunity, and you will see we can make this country a better country.”
“Everybody here is an immigrant, everybody except the Native Americans,” he said.
In Baltimore, hundreds paraded through Patterson Park to demonstrate their support for a Day Without Immigrants, The Baltimore Sun reported.
Chetara Alfaro was there with her husband, Raul, an undocumented immigrant from Honduras, and their children, Miguel, 7; Annalicia, 5; and Emilio, 2. She told the paper that she worries every day when her husband goes to work that he might not come back.
“He provides for me and my kids, and if anything would ever happen to him, it would be a lot of hurt,” she said. “This is a scary thing that’s going on.”
In the Boston area, where snow remains piled high from storms in the past week, at least a dozen businesses, including many restaurants, were closed, The Boston Globe reported.
At the Davis Museum at Wellesley College is recognizing the protest by covering up or removing artwork that immigrants have created or given to the museum, Boston magazine reported. The point officials want to make is the impact of migrants on the country’s quality of life and the economy.
From Ypsilanti to Pontiac to Detroit, restaurants, car dealerships and groceries closed their doors to send a message of support to immigrants.
Others gathered in Clark Park in southwest Detroit in the heart of the city’s Mexican-American community to call for respect of their rights.
“We’re very worried for the families who are being separated and for the pain that families are going through,” said Maria Sanchez, who helped organize Detroit’s march. “The goal for today is for the president to notice how important Immigrants are for the country and for the economy and how bad it would be for the economy if immigrants weren’t in this country.”
In Battle Creek, more than 70 students from Mexico, Burma, Dominican Republic and other parts of the world, including the United States, walked out of their classrooms with permission from school officials. They gathered in the commons area of Battle Creek Central High School for 30 minutes to celebrate the diversity of cultures in their school.
“We’re united, and we don’t want to be separated from our families,” said Adelaido Segovia, a sophomore. “Friends and family are really important nowadays.”
Minneapolis residents were hit in the stomach as more than 50 restaurants closed Thursday.
Would-be customers showed up during the lunch rush only to be met with locked doors and signs explaining what a Day Without Immigrants is all about.
Sue Claude of Minneapolis taped up her own signs with hearts on them to show these businesses love.
“A lot of these people are people that can’t afford to go a day without pay.” Claude said. “They know that they’re being supported.”
St. Louis’ hub of Hispanic business and dining, Cherokee Street, was quiet as the lunch hour arrived.
Kyle Garcia all but automated his family’s Spanish-language radio station WQQW-AM, which targets the metro area’s 75,000 Latinos from its headquarters across the Mississippi River in Highland, Ill. The disc jockeys aren’t coming in, and he said that’s OK.
Listeners are saying, “They’re taking a stand. They’re speaking up for us,” Garcia said.
In Springfield, in the southwest corner of the state, many immigrants instead were anxious about rumors of aggressive Immigration and Customs Enforcement operations.
“They don’t know what’s going to happen.” said Yolanda Lorge, president of Grupo Latinoamericano.
In Omaha, several businesses closed Thursday, telling regular customers the day before of their plans.
“It’s important that we support each other because I feel like if one Hispanic suffers we all suffer,” Teresa Palomares, who owns Taqueria El Gavilan restaurant and two other businesses, told KMTV-TV, Omaha. “We’re the same community. So yes, it will be a big sacrifice but that’s the whole point of this, making a statement.”
Tony Vega, who owns Plaza Latina, said he kept his pizzeria open because other businesses not owned by immigrants are inside his building and can’t afford to close. He thought it was important for Latinos to use the day to make a statement, to demonstrate, and not consider it a free day.
In Las Vegas, Alex and Laura Leon estimate that they lost at least $1,700 by shuttering their hair salon, which also affected their four stylists, the couple told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Other stores in their shopping center echoed their decision to close.
Perhaps the largest business in the area to sacrifice to make a statement was Mariana’s Supermarkets. Chief Operating Officer Ruben Anaya told the paper that he estimated the company’s four Latino markets would lose hundreds of thousands of dollars from the lost day of sales.
Rival Cardenas Markets stayed open.
In Passaic, beauty shops, restaurants and bodegas along Monroe Street, a hub for Mexican-owned businesses, were closed.
The lack of foot traffic earlier convinced Leticia Velasquez of Passaic to keep the locks on the doors of her business. Velasquez, a legal resident who came from Mexico years ago, said many of her customers are undocumented and it was a way of supporting them.
“We have to be in solidarity,” she said. “There’s usually so many people and today nothing.”
About 50 miles south, Casa Freehold in Freehold was crammed with dozens of immigrants who had appointments to see the Mexican consulate, which was visiting the location. Reyes said most of them were there to get a Matrícula Consular, an identification card that the Mexican government issues.
Getting a card has no bearing on on a Mexican citizen’s immigration status, but it contains their name and address, and it’s helpful if a person wants to open a bank account or enroll children in school, according to Director Rita Detino of Casa Freehold, which helps immigrants with employment, English language skills and legal issues.
In Albuquerque and Santa Fe, customers caught unaware of restaurants’ shutdowns vowed to return Friday, reported KOB-TV, Albuquerque.
“I actually didn’t realize that it was going on,” Debra Sanchez of Albuquerque said when confronted with a “closed” sign. “Otherwise, I might have stopped elsewhere. But I fully support it.
“I’ll be here again tomorrow,” she said.
Luis Arce Mota, chef and owner of La Contenta, a Mexican restaurant in the Lower East Side of Manhattan decided to close to show that all Latino immigrants are important to the U.S. economy.
“We have a lot of people who come in from all walks of life,” he said. “When people call and ask why we are closed, some don’t understand. I think we should be given a chance to explain why this is exactly happening, and after that, maybe they’ll say, ‘Thank you.’ “
In Asheville, three eateries that were part of the Chai Pani restaurant group planned to donate all profits to the American Civil Liberties Union rather than shut their doors for the day.
A Wednesday night post on Facebook said the restaurants’ workers were still encouraged to protest.
“We encourage all to stand with our immigrant brothers and sisters tomorrow,” it said. “Without them, our industry would not exist.”
In Columbus, La Michoacana Mexican Market was closed for the day, and Cristal Gallsoso told WCMH-TV, Columbus, that she decided to close her beauty shop to make a statement.
“To me, I really don’t care if I lose $500 or $600 today. Why? Because I know I’m making a big difference” as part of a bigger movement, Gallsoso said. She may not have been born here, but this nation is her home.
In Oklahoma City, Ramiro Vasquez closed his bakery to open the door on what he told KFOR-TV, Oklahoma City, is a big problem.
“This is like a cancer that is kind of sleeping. But, it’s there and, right now, it’s just waking up,” he said of the fear that the Trump administration has instilled in his community of both legal and illegal immigrants.
Some are afraid of being deported, said Vasquez, who has been in the U.S. for 30 years and in business for 15.
“It’s already happening,” he said.
And soon after he finished speaking, Adrian Diaz stopped a reporter in the parking lot, saying he was worried that his wife, parents and brothers all would be forced to go back to Mexico.
In Beaverton, just west of Portland, Edgar Naves closed his business that allows immigrants to pay their family’s bills back home with a mobile app but wanted to talk about why.
“During the last couple of months we’ve heard this anti-immigration rhetoric, and we want to make sure it actually comes to a stop or at least tones it down,” Naves said.
Conservative radio host Lars Larson, based in Portland, said the only people who should be worried are illegal immigrants because the Trump administration would strictly enforce existing laws to remove the undocumented.
Even in the center of the state, away from the metropolitan areas of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, stores and services were affected.
In Chambersburg, a town of about 20,000, the Chambersburg Hispanic American Center, a Mexican restaurant, a Mexican grocery store, an international market and a produce store were shuttered for the day, displaying signs on their doors that said the decision was to participate in a Day Without Immigrants.
Stan Brown, owner of Brown’s Orchards and Farm Market in Loganville, said he needs his dependable workforce of foreign laborers, especially because his delicate fruits and vegetables are so perishable.
“Their hands are like machines,” Brown said. His workers are on the company’s normal, taxed payroll.
In Providence, at least a half dozen of the businesses in the heavily Hispanic neighborhood of Olneyville had posted “closed” signs on their doors in solidarity with the nationwide boycott, the Providence Journal reported.
“We have to send a message. All these executive orders from President Trump are dangerous,” said Juan Garcia, organizer with the Immigrants in Action Committee. He received many phone calls from businesses owners in Central Falls and Providence who are observing the strike.
In Greenville, the state’s largest metro area, 60 businesses in its growing Hispanic community participated in the day’s protests and shutdowns, according to activists.
In addition, a third of the Hispanic children in Greenville County elementary schools didn’t show up for classes, according to district spokeswoman Beth Brotherton.
“I missed my students and I can’t imagine my school without these students,” said Michael Parrish, a music teacher at Alexander Elementary School. “These Hispanic students bring a lot of diversity and culture to our school.”
In Sioux Falls, a number of businesses closed for the day even though it meant no sales, including Nikki’s Burrito Express and Nikki’s La Mexicana grocery store next door.
“It’s not all about the money I’m going to lose,” owner Michelle Reta said. “I just think it’s important for the Hispanic community to show dignity to their fellow Latinos.”
In the Memphis suburb of Bartlett, a sign in the window of Las Palmitas’ Mexican restaurant window, “We love our customers, & for that today we are observing a Day W/O Immigrants.”
Lorena Perez said the sign drew mixed reactions.
“Some people were rolling their eyes and some people were giving thumbs up. And this is in Bartlett.” where more than three quarters of the almost 60,000 residents are white and barely 3% identify as Latino. Perez’s family, originally from Mexico, opened the restaurant about four years ago.
On Nashville’s west side, it was a ghost town at the Cumberland Plaza strip mall. Restaurante Honduras and the Estetica Unisex salon were both closed along with the usually bustling Mi Favorita Supermarket next door.
At S&S Shipping in that same strip, Sedrik Salah was locking up for the day.
“Technically, we are closed. I came in only to pick up some mail,” said Salah, a native of Yemen who has been in Nashville since 1997. “Usually when I open, the parking lot is already full, but today there was no one.”
In El Paso, about 30 Juarez farm workers tied to the Border Farm Workers Center opted to stay home to support the boycott and not try to get hired by agriculture contractors who come to the area on weekdays, said Carlos Marentes, the center’s director.
“At our monthly assembly last week, workers said they would not go to work today to join the cause,” Marentes said. This time of year is slow in agriculture
“We may do a boycott” later when the chili harvest begins in the summer, and as many as 5,000 workers get jobs in the New Mexico chili fields, he said.
In Salt Lake City, Jodi and Jesus Perez, owners of Prime Auto, closed their car dealership for the day, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.
“Every single person that you have had contact with at Prime Auto is an immigrant,” Jodi Perez wrote on the company’s Facebook page. “I am so proud of them for their determination to come here for a better life. They have left many loved ones in Mexico and Venezuela, but they had dreams to make a better life, and I’m glad we can help.”
In the state’s capital of Richmond, at least two dozen businesses closed to highlight the contributions that immigrants make to the community.
“I know we might be losing a few thousand dollars today, but I figure it’s important to send a message,” Jariton Vega, owner of Mass Flow Barbershop, told WWBT-TV, Richmond.
Vega, who was born in the Dominican Republic and is a U.S. citizen, said his American dream was to own a business. He now has two Richmond-area locations and wants people to know that immigrants just like him give so much to their communities.
“We are hard-working people,” he said. “We work seven days a week to provide for our family.”
In the Seattle suburb of Tacoma, Diana Garcia stopped by La Huerta International Market to pick up some groceries and was surprised.
“I know there is a Safeway just a few blocks down, but I’m just not going to go, even though that’s my favorite store,” she said. “I’m just being supportive” and said she’ll return to La Huerta on Friday.
Abranna Romero-Rocha, a senior at Lincoln High School, left school for a half day at her mother’s encouragement: “My mom sat us down and said, ‘I don’t want you all going to class. It’s very important. We have to send a message because we have to stand with Latinos.”
In Abbotsford, a Monday rally in Milwaukee may have had more effect on one of the area’s largest employers, Abbyland Foods, than Thursday’s nationwide protests.
That rally, which a Milwaukee grassroots advocacy group called Voces de la Frontera organized to protest both Trump’s efforts to curb immigration and Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke’s desire to crack down on undocumented workers, shut down one of the sausage maker’s plants Monday and slowed production lines elsewhere as many of its Hispanic workers attended.
Though the 40-year-old, family-owned company with more than 1,000 employees has not taken a political stand on the immigration controversies that have swirled since Trump became president, Abbyland officials worked with employees to allow them to attend the Monday rally, said Ericka Rossani, Abbyland’s human resources manager.
“We do believe in the American right to participate in such things,” she said.
Curious about the states where we couldn’t find media reports? They are Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming.
Contributing: Kaila White, The Arizona Republic; Colin Atagi, The (Palm Springs, Calif.) Desert Sun; Arielle Buchmann and Bruce Leshan, WUSA-TV, Washington; Michael King, WXIA-TV, Atlanta; Chris Kenning, The (Louisville) Courier-Journal; Deborah Gates, The (Salisbury, Md.) Daily Times; Melissa Nelson Gabriel, Pensacola (Fla.) News Journal; Alexi C. Cardona, Naples (Fla.) Daily News; Amy Bartner, The Indianapolis Star; MacKenzie Elmer, The Des Moines Register; Lauren Bale, WWL-TV, New Orleans; Perry A. Farrell, John Wisely and Niraj Warikoo, Detroit Free Press; Noe Hernandez, Battle Creek (Mich.) Enquirer; Matt Bernardini, Jay Knoll, KARE-TV, Minneapolis-St. Paul; Jason Aubry, KSDK-TV, St. Louis; Harrison Keegan, Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader; Pat Dooris, KGW-TV, Portland, Ore.; (Chambersburg, Pa.) Public Opinion; Anthony J. Machcinski, York (Pa.) Daily Record; Monsy Alvarado, Katie Sobko Andrew Wyrich and Keldy Ortiz, The (Bergen County, N.J.) Record; Dan Radel, Asbury Park (N.J.) Press; Mackensy Lunsford, Asheville (N.C.) Citizen-Times; Paul Hyde, The Greenville (S.C.) News; Patrick Anderson, (Sioux Falls S.D.) Argus Leader; Wayne Risher, The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal; Jason Gonzales, Jim Myers and Lizzy Alfs, The Tennessean; Vic Kolenc, El Paso Times; Jenna Hanchard, KING-TV, Seattle; Keith Uhlig, Wausau (Wis.) Daily Herald.