Immigrants in Sunset Park and Bay Ridge shuttered their storefronts and stayed home from work on Thursday as part of a national protest against President Trump’s policies toward immigrants. The “day without immigrants” called for locals, whether naturalized citizens or undocumented, to stay home from work or school, close their businesses, and refrain from shopping to demonstrate the economic importance of foreigners. It was a crucial day of solidarity, said one Sunset Park deli worker who was on strike.
“A lot of gates are down on Fifth Avenue because this is important. It’s important to show that we can come together at a moment’s notice and stand up for what we think is right and against policies that are unconstitutional,” said Sunset Parker Daniel Aguayo, who emigrated from Mexico more than 20 year ago. “I didn’t go to work because I wanted to take a stand and physically show people what they will loose without immigrants like myself. It’s a moment of solidarity.”
Word of the strike and walk-outs spread Wednesday night through social media and spread to several major cities including Chicago, Detroit, and Baltimore in response to Trump’s executive order that bans citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from traveling to the U.S. and a separate order that directs agencies to swiftly deport illegal aliens who have committed or are wanted for committing a crime.
Some business owners were forced to close up shop when none of their staff showed up, including the owner of Las Margraitias in Bay Ridge on Third Avenue.
“I had to close today because three of my employees didn’t come to work,” said Emanuel, who declined to give his last name. “I can’t open if I don’t have a cook and waiters.”
Dozens of students from Sunset Park High School walked out of class and took to the streets marching through the nabe carrying signs that stated, “Education not Deportation,” and waved flags from Mexico and the seven countries where citizens are banned from traveling to the U.S. And grade-school classrooms were noticeably spare with some Sunset Park classrooms missing up to 10 students who stayed home with their families, teachers said.