Restaurants across Detroit are preparing to close today in solidarity with another round of nationwide demonstrations meant to bring attention to worker’s rights and immigration issues. A Day Without Immigrants — the second protest of its kind this year — coincides with May Day and International Workers Day, which traditionally commemorates the labor rights movement that helped bring about improved working conditions.
In Detroit several establishments in the Southwest Detroit area including Taqueria El Nacimiento, Mi Pueblo, and El Asador have announced they will close their doors on May 1. More closures are expected. The day will culminate with a protest organized by Michigan United and ROC-United from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Clark Park in the heart of one of the city’s largest immigrant communities. Organizers are calling for an immigrant boycott of work, school, and purchases to demonstrate the wide-reaching impact of the community on the United States’ economy.
“We’re mainly closing in support of our immigrant community,” Joel Padilla, whose father owns Taqueria El Nacimiento in Springwells. Padilla’s father immigrated to the U.S. in the mid-1980s through California and eventually gained amnesty. “That was the stepping stone for where our family is now,” Padilla says. His father later made is way to Southwest Detroit and opened El Nacimiento in 2001. Today, the Mexican restaurant is a household name providing food to hungry Detroiters and jobs to around 15 employees.
“We want to support them and want our community to thrive,” Padilla says of the decision to close the restaurant for a day. Despite lost income and wages, Padilla says his family feels its important to show how essential immigrant labor is in the U.S.
“Some people would see us as farmers or food processing workers,” he says. “If those immigrants stopped working for a day everything would mainly go downhill. Restaurants are based off the produce from California and meat that comes from Texas farms. The demand is not going to stop. Prices on food at Kroger and everywhere would go up.”
Meanwhile, Eater Philly reports that the Restaurant Opportunities Center in collaboration with Philadelphia’s Popular Alliance for Undocumented Workers’ Rights (PAUWR) is organizing a #Right2Work dining series to advocate for the rights of undocumented workers. The series is expected to hit the road with stops in New York and Detroit.
Eater is continuing to track restaurant and business closures related to ‘A Day Without Immigrants. Find the updated list below:
Taqueria El Rey
This list is being continually updated. Do you know of another metro Detroit restaurant that is participating in the immigrant strike? Send Eater a tip at firstname.lastname@example.org. ¿Sabes de algún otro restaurante que va a participar en la huelga? Mándanos un tip a email@example.com.