Around the country, businesses are coming together to protest President Donald Trump's immigration reform proposals.
The boycott, which is known as “A Day Without Immigrants,” is a social media-led campaign with roots dating back to 2006, when immigrants boycotted United States schools and businesses on May 1. Known as “The Great American Boycott” or “El Gran Paro Estadounidense,” the event has been inspiring others for years. Now, in the age of Trump, it has gained a whole new meaning.
As president, Trump promised to work on an immigration reform that would build a wall between the United States and Mexico, boost the hiring of new Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents — tripling the agency's size — and cease all funding of sanctuary cities.
Some of these policies may have been designed to halt illegal immigration by curtailing the incentives. But, what they actually do is hurt the American consumer, violating business owners' rights to hire whomever they wish in the process. Thus, it isn't surprising to see so many business owners joining the boycott this time around.
Juntos, a Latino immigrant community-led organization based in Philadelphia, has the goal of fighting on behalf of immigrants and workers in general. In a press release sent to Carbonated.TV about the "A Day Without Immigrants" protests, the group expressed concerns regarding ICE raids, especially in light of Trump's plans.
This protest, the Juntos press release reads, hopes to show Philadelphia consumers just “what would happen if large scale raids happened” in the city. After all, if ICE were to take all local immigrants, hundreds of shops would be shut down.
Unfortunately, this is nothing new for local immigrants, the release also states. Instead, the “deliberate and violent” attacks against the Latino communities “have been happening since the [Barack] Obama administration, including in 'sanctuary' cities such as Philadelphia.”
Knowing there will be “more aggressive tactics from [the] federal agency that is now emboldened by the racist and xenophobic speech of [Trump],” the group vows to “continue to empower our communities” through more education. And this day of protests is a great way to raise awareness.
In Washington, D.C., nearly 50 restaurant owners vowed to shut their doors or offer limited menus during the day. Busboys and Poets is one of these restaurants. Its founder and restaurateur Andy Shallal is an Iraqi immigrant. He and chef José Andrés decided to close all six Busboy and Poets locations because “there are times when standing on the sidelines is not an option,” Shallal told ABC.
In New York, dozens of restaurants, such as Cafe Con Pon bakeries, have also joined the movement.
Aside from restaurants, other entities, including schools and daycare centers, are also joining the boycott with places like Little Steps Daycare in Bluffton, South Carolina, closing its doors for the day.
In the San Francisco Bay area, Chavez Supermarket, Gazzali’s Supermarket, and Half Moon Bay Brewing company all announced they are also going dark for the day.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Jorge Duenes