February 17, 2017


What happened at DC's restaurants when immigrant workers stayed home (ELIZABETH FLOCK AND KRISTEN DOERER  February 17, 2017, PBS Newshour)

It impacted markets, daycares, hotels and construction sites, but restaurants were particularly affected, as immigrants make up as much as 70 percent of the restaurant industry's workforce in some cities, according to the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United. Many Americans support Trump's efforts to tighten immigration laws, and say a bigger focus on legal employment would help the economy. But a number of restaurant owners have argued there should be a better path to citizenship for their undocumented workers.

Thursday's action sent "a clear message that the immigrant community is ready to use its labor and consumer power to fight and begin a new chapter in the immigrant rights movement," Movimiento Cosecha, a national immigrant rights advocacy group, said in a statement.

In the nation's capital, at least 60 restaurants were closed Thursday, including five eateries owned by celebrity chef José Andrés, 18 locations of salad chain Sweetgreen and all six branches of Busboys and Poets, a popular regional coffeeshop, restaurant and community gathering space.

The entire kitchen staff at El Chucho, a Mexican restaurant in Northwest D.C., did not go to work, so only basic food like chips and salsa were served. The restaurant's chef, Saul Canesa, an immigrant who came to the U.S. from El Salvador in 2001, joined his staff in striking. He said he hoped the protest would send a message to President Trump.

"We don't come here just for what he says, like to bring crime," Canesa said, referring to the speech Trump made at the start of his presidential campaign, when he said Mexican immigrants "are, in many cases, criminals, drug dealers, rapists."

"We don't come just to do whatever we want to do, or send money back home. We also come to work," Canesa said. "He says he's trying to make America great, but I don't think without our labor he will make it great."

Posted by at February 17, 2017 5:25 AM