WASHINGTON – A one-day strike by immigrants closed many restaurants, schools and other businesses across the nation on Thursday.
“A Day Without Immigrants,” organized primarily on social media, called for immigrants to skip work, avoid spending money and keep children home from school. The point was to show the importance of immigrants to the economy and also to protest the Trump administration’s tough stance on immigration.
Scores of restaurants in Washington, New York, Atlanta, Baltimore, Philadelphia and several other cities closed for the day, and other eateries offered only limited service. Some schools and day-care centers also were shuttered, with teachers reporting on social media that attendance was low.
Numerous McDonald’s across the nation were closed, while the hours for food-service operations in the Senate were reduced.
Celebrity chefs José Andrés and Rick Bayless closed their numerous restaurants in Washington and Chicago, respectively. Andrés, a Spanish immigrant, is in a legal battle with President Donald Trump after backing out of a contract to open a restaurant in Trump International Hotel in Washington because the then-presidential candidate made anti-immigrant statements.
Some restaurants gave workers a paid day off to participate, while other bosses allowed employees to use accrued leave.
The restaurant industry heavily depends on foreign-born workers. More than 23 percent of individuals employed at U.S. restaurants are foreign-born, versus 19 percent for the overall economy, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 American Community Survey (ACS).
Forty-five percent of U.S. restaurant chefs are foreign-born, as are 24 percent of restaurant managers. ACS data shows.
Twenty-nine percent of businesses in the combined restaurant/hotel sector are immigrant-owned, compared to 14 percent of all U.S. firms, according to data from the Census Bureau’s 2012 Survey of Business Owners.