A number of restaurants in Washington, D.C., will remain closed or be short-staffed Thursday as foreign-born workers show solidarity with a campaign aimed at protesting President Donald Trump’s policy toward immigrants.
“A day without immigrants” is a grassroots campaign calling on foreign-born people across the country — whatever their legal status may be — to not work or spend money to demonstrate the importance of immigrants, both in the context of their labor potential and consumer spending in the country.
While the origins of the campaign are not known, it has spread by word of mouth and through social media as it asks people to stand up for the cause by choosing not to eat out, go to classes or even send their children to school.
The campaign has the backing of celebrity Spanish-born chef José Andrés, who announced that his three Jaleo restaurants as well as restaurants Zaytinya and Oyamel, all of which are in the Washington area, will be closed for the day. Andrés has been a vocal critic of Trump’s stand on immigrants and backed out of a 2015 agreement with him to open a restaurant in Washington, D.C.,’s Trump International Hotel, after Trump called undocumented Mexican immigrants “criminals” and “rapists.”
Both Trump and Andrés have sued each other over the dispute.
Iraqi immigrant Andy Shallal also said that all six restaurants of his Busboys and Poets chain in the Washington area will also stay closed in solidarity with the cause. He took to Twitter to show his support: “As an immigrant I am proud to stand in solidarity w/ my brothers & sisters.”
Almost two dozen restaurants in Washington, D.C., are expected to be closed and the boycott will also spread to other cities in the country. Many restaurants are offering limited service.
Colin McDonough’s Boundary Stone restaurant will see its staff members joining the national “Day Without Immigrants” protest, but McDonough told the Washington Post that he and a co-owner will open the kitchen to serve a limited menu.
“It will be a very limited menu because we are not as talented as the people who normally work there,” McDonough told the Post, adding that the employees participating in the boycott will be paid. “We just got together and decided together as a team that it was a good idea on our part to give our team off to voice their concerns.”
While the protest scheduled for Thursday may not have as big of an impact as it would like to, owing to the over 2,000 restaurants in D.C. itself, it’s not likely to go unnoticed.