Why These L.A. Restaurants Are Joining in "A Day Without Immigrants"

Trump is big in L.A. Or not.EXPAND
Trump is big in L.A. Or not.
Ted Soqui

"As the products of hard-working Oaxacan immigrants, we will stand in solidarity with the entirety of the immigrant population of the U.S. We truly believe that all immigrants are the backbone of American history and will remain essential to the continuous growth and prosperity of our nation. Our father and mother came to this country to pursue the American Dream, and that dream should continue to live on in our community. To those who feel silenced we say: Don't be afraid, be strong."

That was the message posted to Twitter by the owners of legendary Koreatown Oaxacan restaurant Guelaguetza, to announce their participation in Thursday's "A Day Without Immigrants," a nationwide political action encouraging immigrants in the United States to refrain from working and shopping, in order to show how crucial they are to the nation's economy.

Guelaguetza co-owner Bricia LopezEXPAND
Guelaguetza co-owner Bricia Lopez
Kevin Scanlon

The movement gained national attention in the food world when Spanish chef Jose Andres, who is based in Washington, D.C., announced he would be closing his D.C. restaurants on Thursday in support of his staff and all restaurant staffs, who tend to be mostly immigrants, especially in the kitchen. Rick Bayless followed, closing his four Chicago restaurants for the day after his staff voted in support of the action.

Josef Centeno hydrating preshift at PYT, his latest restaurant in downtown Los AngelesEXPAND
Josef Centeno hydrating preshift at PYT, his latest restaurant in downtown Los Angeles
Natalie B. Compton

In Los Angeles, where few chefs have the nationwide celebrity stature of Andres or Bayless, local restaurateurs have taken to social media to announce their plans for the day. Orange County's Taco Maria, cheffed by rising star Carlos Salgado, said on Twitter "We chose to honor our reservations, and share with guests that today's profits will be donated to @ACLU."

Some of the restaurant owners who opted to completely close for the day did so by sharing their family stories, much like Guelaguetza. Bar Amá, Josef Centeno's Tex-Mex restaurant downtown, made its announcement on Instagram with a photo and homage to Centeno's "Amá," who came to Texas to escape the Mexican Revolution. Other restaurants, like Nickel Diner, posted a banner announcing the one-day closure, along with the slogan "We Are All Immigrants."

Last week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement , or ICE, arrested 680 people suspected of being undocumented immigrants, criminals, or both, and people in the vicinity of the targets. Today's action is in part a reaction to the ICE sweep.


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