Washington, United States, Feb 16 – Some of the US capital’s finest restaurants are putting their money where their mouths are: shutting down for a day to protest President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant policies.
A number of dining establishments are closing up shop Thursday as a boycott is calling for immigrants not to go to work for “A Day without Immigrants” – in a country that until now has had a long history of welcoming newcomers.
“For one single day on a weekday, we must come together and unite in absolute resistance in order to reject the system dictating the launch from dehumanization and blatant oppression of those that are not straight, white, natural-born citizens,” reads the social media call to action.
The shutdown aims to show the world “how crucial we are to the basic fundamentals of the United States’ economy,” the Facebook post said.
The initiative kicked off recently without a central organizer, staying under the radar until the announcement that some high-profile restaurants in the US capital would participate helped it gain momentum.
Eateries in New York and Philadelphia have also said they will participate in the one-day protests.
DC-based Jose Andres — an immigrant from Spain who became an award-winning celebrity chef and built a restaurant empire — said on Twitter he is closing five of his establishments to show support for workers.
Doors at one of his restaurants, China Chilcano, will however remain open to customers and offer work to employees who do not wish to protest, his management said without indicating if demonstrating workers would be paid.
Some restaurant owners said their employees would be paid, while other workers would take days off.
Andres is in a legal battle with Trump that came after the chef pulled out of plans to open a restaurant in the real estate mogul’s Washington hotel. Andres cited the Republican’s anti-immigrant comments on the campaign trail as his reason for backing out.
The call to boycott comes after last week’s series of immigration raids that rounded up some 680 people – three-quarters of them with a criminal record – for expulsion.
The raids stirred worries in immigrant communities but were not out of line with similar actions carried out under former President Barack Obama.
At least 11 million people are living in the US illegally.
Undocumented immigrants make up about nine percent of employees in the hotel and restaurant industry in 2014, according to the Pew Research Center.