CHICAGO (CBS) — Dozens of restaurants and other businesses were shutting their doors on Thursday, as part of a “Day Without Immigrants,” a nationwide protest against President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.
The social media-driven campaign, which involves several cities, urges foreign-born people not to go to work or school, or shop, as a way to show how immigrants help the U.S. economy. Several businesses across the nation planned to close Thursday to show what the country would look like without immigrant labor.
“Sometimes people don’t realize things until it’s gone, right? So if maybe tomorrow enough people join this action, they’ll be like, ‘Oh, I can’t go this, I can’t do this, I can’t go to this place. Oh, this country runs so much on immigrant labor,” said Carolina Rivadeneira, who was participating in Thursday’s protest.
Celebrity chef Rick Bayless was among the restaurateurs standing in solidarity with staff participating in the protest, closing four of his Chicago restaurants.
“For three decades, we’ve been a place that has welcomed, respected and promoted our immigrant staff, friends and restaurant family,” Bayless said on his website Wednesday. “Out of respect for our staff’s vote to support Thursday’s immigrant civil actions in Chicago and elsewhere, we are closing Frontera Grill, Topolobampo, Xoco and Fonda Frontera on Thursday.”
Bayless said people who can’t participate in the demonstration should consider donating money to groups that are furthering the goal, including the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.
Five Pete’s Fresh Market groceries also were closing for “A Day Without Immigrants,” and employees at other locations were told they can participate in the protest “without any negative consequences.”
Confused customers said it’s an inconvenience, but they don’t mind.
“I think it’s a good idea. I mean, it’s a shame we’re going through what we’re going through in this day and age, and I think we need the immigrants. It helps us out a lot,” Hakim Shakoor said.
“They’re standing up for what they believe in, so I don’t think it’s wrong. I was just surprised that they’re closed, because I shop there all the time,” Stephanie Fowler said.
Several restaurants in Pilsen won’t open either on Thursday.
While there has been talk some workers won’t get paid, some said the sacrifice is worth it.
“If I don’t participate, then they’ll never get it, and we need to participate so the message will get through,” Lorena Garibay said.
In Chicago, a rally against deportations also was scheduled for Thursday in Union Park, a common site for immigration- and labor-related protests.
Similar protests were being held in Austin, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and other cities.