HOUSTON — The growth of a pro-immigration movement could force Houston businesses to downsize if President Donald Trump fails to recognize the economic influence of the immigrant community nationwide.
A Day Without Immigrants, which takes place Thursday, is meant to highlight the negative financial impact that aggressive ICE raids could have on the United States by encouraging immigrant employees and those supportive of the immigrant community to call out of work.
“We talk about immigrants in general. With the Muslim ban we see that not only undocumented people were suffering, through that but other people that were trying to come in on visas, doctors, professionals were also suffering,” FIEL Executive Director Cesar Espinosa said.
So far, Newsfix has confirmed at least two Houston Torchy's Tacos locations and several other restaurants were unable to open Thursday because of a lack of staff as a result of the movement.
Torchy's patron Anne Culotta and her friends were expecting to have Torchy's Tacos, but the restaurant was closed.
“I’m not at all surprised that a business has to close," Culotta said. "You're talking to an immigrant, my parents are both doctors, both immigrated from England. I wasn't born in the United States. That's what this country is about."
Newsfix caught up with some students and teachers who stayed at home, including Marisol Flores. She teaches at a KIPP school and is in the county under the DACA program.
“That impact my students because now they have to find a substitute teacher and you know, unpredictable because they did not know that i won’t show up," Flores said.
Protesters gathered at Guadalupe Plaza to show their support.
"It is important that we, as organizations, support and respond to the needs of our community to open up spaces like these so that our community can know that these are safe spaces for them," Espinosa said.
FIEL: Immigrant Families and Students in the Struggle is an organization that advocates for just laws for immigrant youth, their families and access to higher education for all people regardless of immigration status. The organization hosted a rally and news conference Wednesday morning to build awareness of the movement.
In Houston, the initiative surfaced mainly online and has been spread through the use of social media. A Day Without Immigrants has attracted the support of both sympathetic non-immigrants and immigrants across all legal statuses including undocumented immigrants, naturalized immigrants and various visa holders.
But in Texas, not everyone opposes President Trump’s immigration decisions, especially his executive order as it pertains to the travel ban.
Texas Attorney Gen. Ken Paxton filed an amicus brief Wednesday, showing the state's support for the ban that prevents citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States and suspended national refugee programs.
America may not be able to survive a true day without immigrants, but what it may really need is a day without politics.
FIEL issued a release saying:
"Although this may not be a mass event, we are creating a space for affected community members to come participate and learn how they can get involved."