March 24, 2017

Houston restaurants close in support of Day Without Immigrants

17 February 2017, 12:36 | Ted Wilson

In protest of immigration reform proposals in 2006, a Great American Boycott was also organized for May Day.

The day of action is a direct response to President Donald Trump's immigration policies, including his efforts to ramp up deportation of those in the USA illegally, his pledge to build a wall along the Mexican border and his controversial executive order enacting a travel ban affecting several majority-Muslim countries.

Immigrant workers make up a significant part of restaurant operations in the Twin Cities. Within Beaufort County, a rally took place in Bluffton while a few businesses closed for the day.

News 3 inquired with The Greenery landscaping company about their employees but someone who answered the phone said a manager would call back to discuss it.

In US cities from Washington DC to the east to Los Angeles to the west, from Austin, Texas to the south to Minneapolis in the north, thousands of businesses have closed their doors to support those going on strike Thursday.

Steve Carb, owner of SERG restaurants in Bluffton and Hilton Head did not have numbers to report late morning but said most employees were reporting to work. As the Nation's Michelle Chen reported, undocumented immigrants contribute about $11.6 billion annually to the economy, including almost $7 billion in sales and excise taxes and $3.6 billion in property taxes. "Kitchens are empty", she said.

"As the products of hard working Oaxacan immigrants, we will stand in solidarity with the entirety of the immigrant population of the US". We are an immigrant owned business, employ many immigrants, and are proud to serve our immigrant customers.

"I do everything right. No one said anything about illegal immigrants", wrote another.

The strike will affect the United States beyond its restaurants: Immigrants nationwide, no matter their industry, will not attend work, go to school, or purchase goods. Chicken is affordable in super markets, advocates contend, because Mexicans and other immigrants work in chicken plants, sometimes in undesirable conditions.

The restaurant owners José Andrés and Andy Shallal said online that all of their restaurants will be closed to express solidarity for immigrants. "We're here to support our families".

"A day without immigrants" is a grassroots campaign calling on foreign-born people across the country - whatever their legal status may be - to not work or spend money to demonstrate the importance of immigrants, both in the context of their labor potential and consumer spending in the country. That's a hard thing to gauge, said Bruce Corrie, a professor of economics at Concordia University in St. Paul.

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