MANTECA — The lights were off, the doors were locked, and in a show of support for the millions of immigrants nationwide, Taquerias La Estrella in Manteca was closed on Thursday.
“Us as Taquerias La Estrella, as a family, as employees, we’re all immigrants,” Alex Fonseca, an employee with the restaurant said.
Fonseca and his family run businesses throughout the Sacramento region. He said they decided to close all of their restaurants to take part in a nationwide protest called “A Day Without Immigrants.”
“We want to show the impact that it would do to us as businesses if we were to not have immigrants here,” he said.
He added they wanted to show their customers and their employees the impact they can make.
“And we did this to show that united we can actually make a move,” Fonseca said.
The protest also took place throughout Modesto and Stockton. Just a mile down on East Yosemite, a grocery store was also closed in protest.
“If one business closed down, it’s like it’s not going to do anything, but if many businesses nationwide closed down, then that’s going to definitely show an impact,” Fonseca said.
Customers were divided. One man said off camera he would stop patronizing these businesses.
“I don’t know why they would do that because they’re going to lose a lot of money,” Zack Doty said.
Doty added that he would come back the next day to eat because he said he doesn’t hold grudges.
A woman we spoke to supports the idea.
“I think it’s a good protest, non-violent kind of way. You know, to demonstrate that you do support … you know, support immigrants,” Vanessa Gillette said.
She said her father is trying to immigrate to the U.S.
While some businesses made it clear on their protest signs that the day was a message for President Donald Trump, Fonseca said this isn’t about politics.
“Don’t want to get so much into the politics and start giving opinions about our president,” he said.
He explained this is a message on the power the immigrant community holds.
“We’re a business, we’re a business that’s open to everyone,” he said.
Fonseca said managers discussed closing down their restaurants with their 300-plus employees before shutting their doors. They also called other restaurants in the region to see if they would participate in the protest. Most businesses will reopen on Friday.