9 Businesses That Closed For "A Day Without Immigrants"
On Thursday, thousands of workers around the country went on strike to protest President Trump’s proposed immigration policies. Thousands of businesses also closed for “A Day Without Immigrants” to show their support for immigrants and immigrant rights in the United States. The event — which involves both a strike from work and school and a general boycott — is intended to demonstrate how integral immigrants (regardless of legal status) are to the American economy, labor force, and culture.
Participants in the “A Day Without Immigrants” campaign, which appears to have spread primarily through social media and word of mouth, are protesting a number of items on Trump’s agenda, including building a border wall with Mexico, increasing deportations of undocumented immigrants, and banning immigrants and refugees from certain Muslim-majority nations (not to mention the anti-immigration rhetoric that circulated throughout Trump’s campaign).
At the moment, it’s difficult to come up with a definitive list of businesses that are closing in support of the strike, in part because there are so many of them spread out across the country, and many are local, rather than large national chains. Furthermore, not every business is supporting the strike by closing; some are offering limited menus or limited services so that their workers can participate in the strike, while others are donating proceeds for the day to organizations that support immigrants. Other places, like the Davis Museum at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, are getting creative; the museum has said that artwork created or donated by immigrants will be covered or removed until next week.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, given how much the food industry depends on immigrant labor, a major portion of businesses striking is made up of restaurants. (NPR reports that approximately one quarter of U.S. restaurant workers were born outside the United States). The following businesses represent only a small fraction of those closing, but this list will give you a sense of the scope of “A Day Without Immigrants":
1. José Andrés’ Washington D.C. restaurants.
Celebrity chef José Andrés, who himself immigrated to the United States from Spain, announced that he would be closing five restaurants in support of the strike. “It seems immigrants, especially Latinos, it seems we are under attack,” he told NPR. “It seems we are part of the American dream, but somehow it seems that America is not recognizing what we are doing.” Andrés has butted heads with Trump in the past; in 2015, he backed out of a restaurant deal with Trump after Trump, then a candidate, described Mexican immigrants as “rapists” and “criminals.” The two have since been locked in a legal battle.
2. Rick Bayless’ restaurants.
Celebrity chef Rick Bayless announced on Twitter that he would be closing four of his Chicago restaurants as part of the strike. Bayless’ two remaining restaurants will donate 10 percent of their gross revenue for Thursday to the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.
3. Busboys and Poets.
Andy Shallal, owner of the “Busboys and Poets” restaurant chain in Washington D.C. and an immigrant from Iraq, announced on Twitter that he would be closing all six of his restaurants, writing, “As an #immigrant I am proud to stand in solidarity w/ my brothers & sisters.”
4. Sweetgreen in D.C.
According to Mashable, salad chain Sweetgreen has closed all 18 of its locations in Washington D.C. In a letter to customers, Sweetgreen’s CEOs explained that the restaurants were closing because “without the hard work and grit of our team, our stores do not run, and that means we can't make good on our promise to you.”
5. At least 50 other restaurants in D.C.
The Washington Post has a list of at least 50 restaurants closing in the Washington D.C. area; many others are offering limited menus.
6. More than 250 businesses in Charlotte, NC.
WFAE reports that 250 businesses in Charlotte were set to stay closed Thursday as part of “A Day Without Immigrants.”
7. At least 30 restaurants in Austin, TX.
Signs outside dozens of restaurants in Austin say they’re closing in support of the strike.
8. Anna’s Taqueria, the Dirty Water Dough Company, and many other Boston restaurants.
The Boston Globe has a running list of Boston restaurants participating in “A Day Without Immigrants.”
9. The Saffron Indian Bistro, the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company, and other restaurants in the Bay Area.
Ajay Walia, owner of Bay Area restaurants Saffron Indian Bistro and Rasa Contemporary Cuisine, told The Mercury News of closing his restaurants, “We work with first, second and third generation immigrants. At the end of the day, we’re all immigrants. There is no America without immigrants.”