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‘Day Without Immigrants’ not going unnoticed in Rowan County

By Mark Wineka

mark.wineka@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — It will be difficult to judge the overall economic impact, but many Rowan County immigrants — legal and illegal — are being encouraged today to not open their businesses, not work, not shop, not attend school, not dine out and not bank as part of a national “Day Without Immigrants” demonstration.

Evelyn Medina, a co-owner of Medina Construction and Mean Mug Coffee, and Liliana Spears, owner of Latin Mix stores, are spearheading efforts locally. Medina said the protest here and nationally is designed to show the economic impact immigrants have in U.S. communities.

As of Wednesday evening, Medina said, at least 16 immigrant-owned businesses had agreed to be closed today. A 10 a.m. meeting also will be held today in the parking lot of Latin Mix at 931 S. Fulton St.

Medina said the Salisbury demonstration will include a live Facebook feed.

Businesses planning to be closed today in support of Day Without Immigrants include Latin Mix, Mean Mug, Totally Polished, J&J Tire and Sales, the Edson Shop, Cordero Tires, Medina Construction, La Cebia, Naples Cafe, Karchner and Associates, Pakiss Hair Salon, La Alcancia, Don Carlos Garage, Velazquez Produce, Casa Latina, Replay 2016, the Latin Mix hair salon and the Compare Foods in Kannapolis.

In proving their economic impact, immigrants will be making sacrifices. Participating businesses will incur the loss of a day’s earnings, and immigrant workers sitting out will lose a day’s pay.

“At some point, you’ve got to put your money where your mouth is,” Medina said.

Much of the effort everywhere has been organized and promoted through social media. Medina and Spears personally called many businesses Wednesday to encourage them to take part in Days Without Immigrants.

Medina, a U.S. citizen, was born in Guatemala and came to the United States many years ago as an illegal immigrant. She said she expected a majority of the people participating today to be Latino, though the effort is not meant to include only Hispanic and Latino populations.

“In a place like the United States, we’re all immigrants,” she said.

According to 2015 census figures, 8.3 percent (11,549 residents) of Rowan County’s 139,142 population is Hispanic or Latino. Rowan also has a 1.2 percent Asian population, according to the census.

Day Without Immigrants is seen as a response to President Donald Trump’s promises to crack down on immigrants who are in the country illegally, use “extreme vetting” on people coming into the country and build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Various terms have been used to describe this one-day initiative, including “boycott,” “strike” and “protest.” But Medina shied away from describing it as a protest or boycott and said the day was just meant to show the monetary impact immigrants have on the community.

Medina was especially encouraged that the Compare Foods grocery chain, which is popular within the Hispanic/Latino community, will close its stores today. In Charlotte, company officials encouraged employees and customers to attend a demonstration at Marshall Park.

“Our commitment is with the Latino community of Charlotte,” Compare Foods said in a Facebook post. “We are proud to support our community in whatever way they think is best for achieving our shared goals.”

The Charlotte Observer reported at least 18 businesses overall in the city were planning to be closed today.

Day Without Immigrants protests also are planned in Wilmington and Durham.

On Monday in Milwaukee, roughly 150 businesses closed in a similar protest, which drew 30,000 demonstrators. Hundreds of thousands of people participated in peaceful protests in 2006 during a “Day Without Immigrants” held in many major U.S. cities.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.

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