Austin businesses close up shop for ‘Day Without Immigrants’

The sign on the window of El Borrego de Oro on S. Congress.
The sign on the window of El Borrego de Oro on S. Congress.

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Organizers are trying to give people an idea of what a world without immigrants would be like on Thursday.

The campaign, part of a national movement, encourages immigrants and those who support them to remove themselves from the economy for the day.

That means not going to work and not buying or selling products. Organizers say they want to show how critical immigrants are to the US economy and way of life.

Gary Freeman, professor of government at the University of Texas at Austin, says, “You have a city and much of a population not really willing to support deportation while the government and very large numbers of people as well saying the law is the law and if we don’t start enforcing it now, when will we ever do it?”

ATX Construction Clean says 75 percent of their crew is striking Thursday and they want their employees’ voices to be heard.

“My supervisor called me the night before and he said 90 percent of my crew wanted to take the day off and I just told him he was worried about their jobs,” Amy Teykl, the president for ATX Construction Clean said. “Everyone still has their jobs, I’m going to probably pay them a portion for that day just because I’m behind them 100 percent.”

Trinidad Macias, owner of Los Jaliscienses in south Austin is also closing her restaurant Thursday, despite losing out on about $8,000 for the day.

“I believe we play a huge part in this country’s economy, because all we do is work to get ahead. But if we don’t produce, if we get deported, and don’t show up, what’s gonna happen? This country will collapse, because who’s gonna do our kinds of jobs? No one,” said Macias.

Antonio Acuna, owner of Fruitlandia on East Riverside Drive closed his doors for the day to demonstrate the impact he believes immigrants have on Austin.

“I think the immigrant community is the one supporting the economic development of the city,” said Acuna. “We are the ones paying the taxes, we are the ones going to the grocery stores and spending all the money.”

Protests against immigration enforcement ratcheted up nationwide after an ICE operation targeted undocumented immigrants with convictions or arrest warrants in several states. In Austin, dozens of protesters showed their support for immigrants at City Hall Thursday morning.

In Austin, 51 were arrested as part of Operation Cross Check. The Department of Homeland Security estimated that around 75 percent of those arrested nationwide had previously been convicted of crimes.

Austin restaurants, businesses and one construction crew plan to participate in the campaign:

 

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