Commentary

Immigrant Workers Protest Mounts; Trump Meets With Retail CEOs

Businesses are closing and cities across the country are preparing for “A Day Without Immigrants,” an apparently impromptu movement gathering momentum that calls for immigrants to not work today to protest the Trump Administration’s border policies.

“Coming on the heels of roundups of undocumented immigrants nationwide, organizers urge legal residents as well as undocumented ones to participate in the boycott in response to President Trump's crackdown on immigration, which includes plans to build a border wall and a temporary immigration ban on nationals from certain Muslim-majority nations,” writes Steph Solis for USA Today.

“‘From doctors to dishwashers, immigrants are integral to daily life in the U.S.,’ tweeted Janet Murguia, president and CEO of National Council of La Raza, as she praised Spanish-American Chef Jose Andrés' decision to close his Washington, D.C., restaurants Thursday,” Solis reports. 

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His won’t be the only business in the nation’s capital aiming to catch the Presidents eye. It’s a region where 21.8% of the population was foreign-born in 2010 according to the Brookings Institution, Perry Stein reports in the Washington Post

“The social-media-organized protest aims to show the President the effect immigrants have in the country on a daily basis. The boycott calls for immigrants not to attend work, open their businesses, spend money or even send their children to school,” Stein writes.

Actions are also planned in cities including Philadelphia, Boston, Houston, Chicago and New York, according to the Associated Press, and “organizers expect thousands of people to participate or show solidarity with workers.”

“Our goal is to highlight the need for Philadelphia to expand policies that stop criminalizing communities of color,” Erika Almiron, executive director of Juntos, a nonprofit group that works with the Latino immigrant community, tells the AP. “What would happen if massive raids did happen? What would the city look like?”

If news about the event seems to have come out of nowhere, apparently it has.

“An immigrant advocacy group, Cosecha (the Spanish word for harvest), has been planning a day without immigrants on May 1. Maria Fernanda Cabello, a Cosecha organizer, said it was not behind Thursday’s campaign, but viewed it as something of a dry run, and was working with some local groups that were promoting it,” report Richard Pérez-Peña and Katie Rogers for the New York Times.

“We don’t know where this started, and as far as we know, there isn’t anyone putting it all together,” Cabello says. “We started seeing messages about it in different cities a few weeks ago, and it’s really picked up in the last couple of days.”

Maria Empanada is among the restaurants closing in Denver tomorrow, according to Patricia Calhoun in Westword

“Maria Empanada is an American business founded by an immigrant who sought out a better life in this amazing country,” says owner Lorena Cantarovici. “… Maria Empanada’s employees — the face and backbone of the brand — yearn to participate in this beautiful and most American process of peaceful protest, democracy and, most importantly, knowing that we live in a country where all voices are important.”

Meanwhile, Trump met yesterday with the CEOs of several major retailers to discuss the latter’s concerns about a proposed border tax on goods from Mexico that they say will result in higher prices for consumers.

“This is a plan that we think is risky and unproven,” says David French, SVP of government relations at the National Retail Federation, CNBC’s Ben Popken reports. “We would urge them to reconsider this approach.

“It is not clear whether Trump supports the border adjustment idea that congressional Republicans have put forward. In an earlier interview with the Wall Street Journal, he said it was ‘too complicated,’” Sarah Halzack reports for the Washington Post.

The attendees were Target's Brian Cornell, Best Buy's Hubert Joly, Gap's Art Peck, AutoZone's William Rhodes, Boots Alliance's Stefano Pessina, J.C. Penney’s Marvin Ellison, Jo-Ann Stores' Jill Soltau and Tractor Supply Co.'s Gregory Sandfort.

They “called the hourlong meeting positive and productive, though they offered few details,” the AP’s Joshua Boak and Anne D'Innocenzio report in U.S. News & World Report

“Retailers have warned that forms of a border tax could raise prices as much as 20% for consumers on items from gas to food to clothing,” they write. “Nearly all of those items that U.S. shoppers buy are either wholly or partly produced overseas, where production is cheaper. And with online competition and shoppers trained to find the best deals, U.S. retailers haven't had the power to raise prices on many goods for several years.”

At the meeting, “Trump said work on a tax plan was going ‘really well’ but gave no details except to say it would simplify the tax code,” reports Reuters’ Ginger Gibson. Last week he said he would “announce his own ‘phenomenal’ tax plan in the coming weeks.”

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