Some North Texas businesses close, students walk out for 'Day Without Immigrants'

Organizers in North Texas and across America encouraged immigrants to skip out on school, work and shopping on Thursday in a show of strength called Day Without Immigrants.

The day of boycotts is in response to President Donald Trump’s immigration enforcement. It’s meant to show how crucial immigrants are to the economy.

“Donald Trump wants to deport immigrants. We want to support immigrants. We want to let everyone know that we will not accept. We will not allow for the abuse of discriminatory practices against immigrants,” said Carlos Quintanilla, a civil rights activist in North Texas.

Several hundred students walked out of Molina High School in Dallas. Dallas ISD did not have total attendance figures available, but attendance at Fort Worth ISD was down significantly - only 80 percent attendance districtwide compared to 93 percent Wednesday. Arlington ISD attendance was only 88 percent, compared to 94 percent Wednesday.

Dozens of local small businesses, including the El Rancho Supermercado in Dallas, posted notices that they were closed in support of the movement.

A McDonald’s restaurant in Pleasant Grove was forced to close its dining room. A sign on the door said there would only be drive-thru service Thursday because of a lack of employees.

“We are going to close. I’m going to close because we want to support all the immigrants from all the countries and I think that’s the best way we can support them,” said Porfirio Martinez, owner of Taqueria Los Jaliscienses.

Most of the businesses that did close their doors appeared to be Hispanic-owned. Juan Contreras' restaurant was started by his parents.

"They were immigrants in the U-S moved here to build a better life for us, I'm forever grateful for that I would never take that for granted,” Contreras said.

The protest also asked people to stay away from work. Contreras' employees will be back on Friday, but not everyone felt they could stay home on Thursday.

“I can definitely understand why people are upset and why they want to do something about these policies that are affecting everybody. But at the same time I can't really miss work to take part,” Martinez said.

Economic analyst Allyn Needham says the numbers already support immigrants have a big impact on the Texas economy. But as for the one day protest, he says it's not something the state's economy will feel.

"I think it is symbolic. I think that on this issue most people have their minds made up,” Needham said.

But some have questioned the effectiveness of the protests.

“Pulled up to go shopping, now I can’t. I’ll just go to the next store that’s open and go there and go shopping,” said Jamie Gage, an El Rancho Supermercado customer.

Protests were also planned in cities including Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Boston and Austin.


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