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How ‘Day Without Immigrants’ boycott will impact Richmond

Posted at 6:36 PM, Feb 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-16 08:21:22-05

RICHMOND, Va - More than a dozen businesses along the Hull Street Road corridor in Richmond plan to close Thursday in protest to President Donald Trump and his administration’s immigration policies.

The businesses are participating in the “Day Without Immigrants” boycott, which has called on people to skip work or close businesses to help demonstrate the economic clout of immigrant communities.

Since the “Day Without Immigrants” movement originated on social media, it has been hard to track exactly how many businesses will be closing or the number of workers who plan to stay home.

Richmond-area immigration advocates told CBS 6 several Latino markets across Central Virginia planned to close Thursday.

Jose Almonte, who owns a restaurant and two hair salons on Hull Street, said the $1,000 hit he expected to take by closing his businesses would be worth the message he and others will send.

"We don’t just come over here to be lazy, or they think a lot people are just getting help from the government,” Almonte said about Richmond’s immigrant community. "We make money. We help this nation be a better economy.”

The Trump administration has said they are focusing immigration enforcement efforts only on illegal immigrants who have committed crimes.

President Trump has said those who are doing the right thing have nothing to worry about.

Posts to social media indicate that some people feel the “Day Without Immigrants” is a protest without a true cause.

One big question facing the “Day Without Immigrants” movement is will the economic impact of the strike be large enough for leaders to take notice.

A 2015 study by the Commonwealth Institute found that immigrants own more than 4,000 businesses in Central Virginia. You can read that here.

“Too often the economic contributions of immigrants gets overlooked in the public discussion about policies that affect foreign-born residents. That needs to change,” Michael Cassidy, President of the Commonwealth Institute, said at the time.

Richmond property owner Steve Farag said he planned on closing his business on Hull Street because the immigrant community is the backbone of the Hull Street economy, whether workers are here legally or not.

“I think the message will be loud and clear,” Farag said. "They’re good people. They work hard. They don’t mind working seven days a week. I think this is a great opportunity."