As anti-immigrant sentiments and policies continue to take center stage under Donald Trump’s presidency, those who stand to feel the impact – as well as their allies – protested by staying home today. By staging a nationwide Day Without Immigrants strike, they sent one message: the United States depends on immigrant labor. In Washington DC, in particular, the strike was supposed to disrupt – or at least inconvenience – diners. The New York Times even said that the day should “hit Washington in the stomach.”
Public figures like Spanish chef José Andrés vowed to close their restaurants. Andrés, who backed out of a Trump hotel after the president called Mexican rapists, shuttered his five DC restaurants for the day. According to Time, Andrés expects to lose $100,000 in revenue today, but he said it’s worth it to stand with his immigrant workers, which make up 65 percent of his staff. However, not all restaurant owners can afford to take the day off. For Matt Carr – owner of three-year-old Little Red Fox restaurant – closing for the entire day would have been impossible. But Carr, who has five immigrant employees from Venezuela and Guatemala, wanted to stand in solidarity with his employees. So he worked out a deal with those who wanted to take part in the protest.
“We’re a very small business and without them, we would not be able to open today,” he told Fox 5 San Diego. “So they not only gave me a heads-up about the strike, but did double the work yesterday so we would be in good shape today.” Three employees joined the strike, and left him a note so he knew what they had prepped. He shared a sweet message on Twitter, praising them for still doing their work.
This means he’ll have to take on more duties for the day, like finishing up the food prep that his employees couldn’t do in advance. The three immigrants will get paid for Thursday. And he’ll donate 10 percent of the day’s proceeds to nonprofits that improve the lives of immigrants.
“Immigrants are the backbone of this country and the heart and soul of the service industry,” he said. “Without them, our small businesses would crumble. They are also part of our family here at Little Red Fox, and I too am worried about their future under this administration.”