Shoppers at La Tropicana, a grocery store on Preston Highway, were surprised to see that the store was closed on Thursday.
On this day, businesses, schools and other entities across the nation are observing “A Day Without Immigrants.” The goal of the strike is to highlight contributions of immigrants in America.
It’s also a reaction to President Trump holding onto his campaign promise to build a wall between the United States and Mexico, as well as his executive orders last month halting some immigrant and refugee entries. A federal court decision has placed the travel bans on hold.
During a news conference Thursday, Trump said he would issue a new executive order on travel bans next week.
Luis de León is a journalist who lives in Louisville. He came to the U.S. from Guatemala. He was at La Tropicana on Thursday, recording video reactions of would-be shoppers.
“The idea is, ‘okay, I’m living here, I’m working for my community. I’m working for my family,’” de León says.
He says participating in the boycott is a peaceful way to demonstrate that sentiment. And he says it’s also important to recognize that the word immigrant encompasses all types of people and not just Latinos.
Robin Garr, a local food writer, learned about the strike from friends and social media.
“In a time when immigrants and refugees are under political attack — something that I consider wrong and unfair — it makes sense for them to choose a public action that reminds us how much their lives influence our lives,” Garr says. “I think it’s admirable that a lot of tiny, immigrant-owned businesses are taking part. They have a lot to lose and are putting themselves on the line.”
The list of local businesses was shared on social media by Al Día en América, a Spanish language news outlet that covers issues in Kentuckiana. It’s also a news partner of WFPL.
But de León first heard of the national day from friends in Wisconsin. Earlier this week, immigrants in Milwaukee observed “A Day Without Latinos.” The Monday protest was in response to a crackdown on undocumented immigrants by the county sheriff there.
Elsewhere around the country, some businesses are closed for the day, while others have pledged to donate a portion of the day’s proceeds to nonprofits that benefit Latino communities, as reported by NPR:
In a number of cases, business owners are abiding by their staffs’ wishes, after holding votes to decide whether to open.
Several closures are high-profile: chef and entrepreneur José Andrés told NPR this week, “It was a very easy decision” to close his restaurants in Washington, D.C., saying he wants to support his employees who had planned not to work Thursday.
Celebrity chef Rick Bayless, who’s famous for popularizing the complex flavors of Mexico’s cuisine, says he closed four Chicago restaurants for the day out of respect for his staff’s vote.