Businesses Close Doors Nationwide for

Photo: Peace Council

Article By: Cia Mangat

Several major US cities spent the beginning of this week preparing for a ‘Day Without Immigrants’. The boycott-strike campaign asks immigrants nationwide, regardless of their legal status, to not go to work or school and to forgo shopping or eating in restaurants in order to demonstrate the importance of immigrant labor and consumer spending to the United States’ economy. The movement was prompted initially by Trump’s controversial immigration ban on individuals from seven Muslim-majority countries for 120 days. A federal appeals court has temporarily halted the order.
Activists and groups across America have spread word of the campaign via social media by reposting flyers found online, and, in some cases, organising demonstrations alongside the event. The @WomensMarch twitter account has expressed its support for #ADayWithoutImmigrants. Some of the posters call for the shutdown of schools - at least two schools are closed for the day in Washington, D.C.

José Andrés, a Spanish-born celebrity chef currently embroiled in a legal battle with Trump, said that he was going to close five of his restaurants in the Washington area for the day. In 2015, following Trump’s derogatory comments about Mexican immigrants, Andres pulled out of an agreement to open a restaurant in Trump’s D.C. hotel. They have since sued each other over the dispute.

Another celebrity chef, Rick Bayless, says he closed four Chicago restaurants for the day out of respect for the wishes of his staff. The Washingtonian compiled a list of sixty local restaurants and entire chains in the D.C. area that will be closed on Thursday. Some restaurants in other cities, including several of the Blue Ribbon restaurants in New York, have joined in. Many businesses are closing for the day, while others are staying open and pledging to contribute a share of the day’s proceeds to nonprofit organisations that aid Latino communities.

The day of protest comes after Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents alarmed immigrant rights by arresting approximately 680 people in raids across the country over the last week. The Department of Homeland Security has called these raids ‘routine’, saying that convicts were targeted. Today’s campaign comes twelve years after another national movement, the Great American Boycott, protested the Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005. That legislation - also known as HR 4437 - would have required hundreds of miles of fencing to be erected across the American-Mexican border, along with a harsher federal stance towards immigrants and towards anyone in the US who offers them shelter or aid. The bill was passed the United States House of Representatives in December 2005 by a vote of 239 to 182, but did not pass the Senate.

A few charities/ nonprofit organisations that you can share online or donate to:
  • The Committee for Hispanic Children and Families - supports Hispanic youth by combining education, capacity-building, and advocacy
  • UNICEF - protecting children in danger
  • ACLU - provides info about immigration, anti-Muslim discrimination and ICE rights and more
  • NWIRP (Northwest Immigrant Rights Project) - provides education, advocacy, and immigration legal services for persons of low income in Washington State.