February 16, 2017
PHOTO BY THOMAS GRILLO
Casa Antigua was one of many Lynn retailers to close Thursday for “A Day Without Immigrants.”
By THOMAS GRILLO
LYNN — Jose Reyes didn’t go to work yesterday.
A Dominican Republic native, Reyes joined “A Day Without Immigrants,” a national movement by immigrants, who vowed to stay home Thursday and show how critical they are to the nation’s way of life.
“We are a nation of immigrants and we have to show everyone that we are the moving force of this country’s economy,” he said.
The broker for RE-Yes Real Estate is just one of hundreds of North Shore workers who stayed home in reaction to President Donald Trump.
“I understand the president is trying to protect the country, but his approach is wrong,” he said. “Lots of people are responding to this protest. The rights of all people should be respected.”
The massive protest has sparked walk-outs in Lynn, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, Houston, Chicago and New York. It comes in response to Trump, whose administration has pledged to increase the deportation of immigrants living in the country illegally. Trump campaigned on building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, and blamed high unemployment on immigration. As president, he’s called for a ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries from coming into the U.S.
Frances Martinez, CEO of the North Shore Latino Business Association, said more than 150 of Latino businesses in Lynn, including barber shops, beauty salons, auto repair and markets, closed as a result of the work stoppage.
“We are here and if we were not part of the economy it would harm this country,” she said.
Gilcia Garcia, a manager at American Food Basket, a neighborhood supermarket on North Common Street, stayed home.
“Most of our customers are immigrants, I am an immigrant and we are showing our solidarity,” she said. “Most immigrants come to the U.S. to work very hard because we don’t have opportunities in our home country that we have here.”
William Sanchez, co-owner of Casa Antigua in the downtown, which serves Guatemalan, Salvadoran and Mexican food, closed his restaurant to support the protest.
“Immigrants should not be portrayed badly by politicians,” he said. “We work every day and are here to have a better life for our children.”
Brian Murphy, distribution manager at Publishers Circulation Fulfillment on the Lynnway, said his newspaper delivery service is feeling the impact of the strike. Five carriers failed to report to work to on Thursday.
“They didn’t show and they didn’t call, we’re overwhelmed,” he said. “Five people may not seem like a lot, but it’s significant and spread my staff very thin.”
Associated Press contributed to this report. Thomas Grillo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org