Portland businesses participate in 'Day Without Immigrants'

Day without immigrants Oregon impact

PORTLAND, Ore. – In a nationwide protest to show what it would be like if immigrants weren’t part of American society, some immigrants did not shop, or show up to work or school on Thursday.

The strike was called a "Day Without Immigrants.”

Some Portland businesses, Like Por Que No, closed Thursday to support their workers.

Owner Bryan Steelman says several legal immigrants work for him and he's fed up with the president's anti-immigrant rhetoric.

“So I feel it’s nice to be able to extend our voice through solidarity of closing today,” he said.

In Beaverton, Edgar Naves invited us in to his company which allows immigrants to pay their family's bills back home with a mobile app. He too was closed but opened just to talk about the protest.

“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,” said Naves.

Revolucion Coffee House in downtown Portland was closed. Owner Maria Garcia said she wanted to show solidarity with the Latino community.

“We are here, we participate in different events, we own businesses, we have professional people working different aspects in society,” Garcia said.

Other businesses in Portland, including some stores at Portland Mercado and Du’s Grill, were also closed Thursday.

A handwritten sign on Du's Grill says, "In honor of the Day Without Immigrants" protest, my staff has chosen not to work today. In support, we will also close." 

But some argue the protest is more about flexing the political muscle of "illegal immigrants."

“This in fact not a day without immigrants. It’s a day without illegal aliens!” said conservative radio host Lars Larson.

He insists legal immigrants have nothing to fear.

“On the other hand illegal aliens have a lot to fear when this president begins to actually enforce the laws that are already on the books,” said Larson.

Immigrants in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Austin and other major U.S. cities stayed home Thursday.

Coming on the heels of roundups of undocumented immigrants nationwide, organizers urge legal residents as well as undocumented ones to participate in the boycott in response to President Trump's crackdown on immigration, which includes plans to build a border wall and a temporary immigration ban on nationals from certain Muslim-majority nations.

"From doctors to dishwashers, immigrants are integral to daily life in the U.S.," tweeted Janet Murguia, president and CEO of National Council of La Raza, as she praised Spanish-American Chef Jose Andrés' decision to close his  D.C. restaurants Thursday.

The celebrity chef said he decided to close after a few hundred of his employees told him they weren’t coming to work Thursday. They asked for his support and got it.

“We are all one," he said. "We should not be fighting among each other, we should all be working together to keep moving the country forward."

Andrés faces a lawsuit against Trump after pulling out of a restaurant deal at Trump's new Washington, D.C., hotel over offensive comments Trump made about Mexican immigrants.

The Trump administration, less than a month in, has implemented policies that advocates call anti-immigrant. The first series of changes included executive actions to build the U.S.-Mexico wall, boost patrol agents to curb illegal immigration and strip federal funding from sanctuary cities that limit cooperation with immigration agents.

Days later, Trump signed a sweeping order that temporarily banned people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States, suspended all refugee admissions for 120 days and indefinitely barred Syrians from the country, though an appeals court order temporarily blocked the order.  That order was suspended by an appeals court.

It is unclear how many immigrants in the United States joined the boycott.

Busboys & Poets and more than a dozen other restaurants in the nation's capital announced closings. Other restaurants in New York, Philadelphia, St. Paul, Minn., and Austin, Texas, have announced closings.

In New Mexico, the state with the largest percentage of Latino residents in the U.S., school officials worry that hundreds of students may stay home.

“We respectfully ask all parents to acknowledge that students need to be in class every day to benefit from the education they are guaranteed and to avoid falling behind in school and life,” Albuquerque Public Schools principals wrote in a letter to parents.

In Phoenix, acclaimed chef Silvana Salcido Esparza said she will close three of her Phoenix restaurants for the day: Barrio Cafe, Barrio Urbano and Barrio Cafe Gran Reserva.

"You know what, my restaurants don’t function without immigrants. That starts in the field, people who pick our food, the processing plants, the slaughterhouse, I could go on," she said Wednesday, hours after she was named a James Beard Award semifinalist for Best Chef — Southwest for the fifth time.

Contributing: Kaila White, The Arizona Republic; Delia Goncalves, WUSA; Monsy Alvarado, The (Bergen County, N.J.) Record; The Associated Press

© 2017 KGW-TV


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