Local businesses shut their doors for 'A Day Without Immigrants'
By Alana Cerrone
It was lunchtime on a Thursday– but the chairs and tables were empty at El Rancho Grande in Providence. That’s because it was closed. And owner Joaquin Meza was happy about it.
"24 years ago I was a child walking across the border. Now 20 something years later here I am I own a business I employ people. I'm not a burden to the community."
He locked the doors to his popular restaurant to give others a taste of what life would be like without immigrants. "Most restaurants I know have immigrants in their kitchen - so its kind of unfortunate to think of a Latino or an immigrant as a bad person."
The nationwide movement, called ‘A Day Without Immigrants’, was formed on the heels of President Trump's executive order on immigration.
In Rhode Island, at least 100 business owners like Meza decided to close for the day as a sign of their solidarity.
But others couldn't afford to. And ‘Immigrants in Action’ leader Juan Garcia had a strong message for those businesses.
"The businesses that don't close - the same community - not the leaders - the community is saying if you don't close, we won't support you either."
Garcia hopes the day without immigrants resonates with President Trump.
"Remember that President Trump is a businessman, not a politician."
Other businessmen like Meza say they understand and support those who can't afford to close today, but for him, the day's lost profit is worth it.
“It's not an easy decision to close. It was random - we decided last night - but at the same time making a statement, we love what we do."