While most stores in the Mission District remained open Thursday, dozens made it clear on handmade signs taped to shuttered storefronts that they were willing to forgo profits for a day to show support for the immigrant community.
The closings were part of a nationwide protest, A Day Without Immigrants, meant to underscore the importance of the country’s more than 40 million foreign-born residents who represent more than 13 percent of the population.
Many of the signs in the Mission District also stressed the owner’s identification with immigrants. La Palma Mexicatessen, the successful tortilla maker on the corner of 24th and Florida streets, wrote that their closure was a “demonstration of the importance of us (immigrants) in this country.” And Miguel and Victor Escobedo, the owners of Papalote Mexican Grill, displayed a family photo on their front window that reflected the generational identity with immigration – ties that bind many San Franciscans.
Taqueria Guadelajara, also on 24th Street, said it was closing “in support of our immigrant families and friends desire and right to protest the evolving state of immigration policies in our country.”
It is unclear if these stores will also heed the call for a nationwide general strike on Friday to protest the Trump Administration.
The highest concentration of closed stores was up and down 24th Street, where shops as different as Mission Skate Shop and Papalote kept the lights off. Closings on Mission Street were spottier – although significant. One reader said that she “took a quick swing down Mission from 22nd to 26th and found more than 35 businesses closed.” Along trendy Valencia Street most places remained open, but some made clear their support for employees who opted to stay home and others offered to turnover their profits for the day to organizations that helped immigrants.
City officials highlighted the importance of immigrants to the local economy, noting that foreign-born residents generate $210 billion of economic activity in the Bay Area and $60 billion in San Francisco where 35 percent of the residents are immigrants.
Latinos comprise 38 percent of the Mission District’s population, down from more than 50 percent in 2000, but still representing the city’s highest concentration of Latinos.
For various reasons, many of the stores, restaurants and fruit markets that depend on immigrant labor remained open including cafes, several bakeries and many the fruit markets on the northern end of Mission Street and the fast-food chains McDonald’s and Pollo Campero on Mission Street. A reader reported that the “huge market next to El Farolito, as well as El Farolito bar and taqueria, were closed.” Also closed, she wrote in an email, was the fruit market next to Mission Pie, the fruit market at 26th and Mission, and Casa Maria on Capp and 23rd.
At Pollo Campero, Keiry Caceras, the manager of the fried chicken store said, “We’re open because all the Pollo Camperos are open.”
At the Evergreen Market on Mission Street two of the workers, like those in other open stores, said they were unaware of the protest. Nearby at Mi Ranchita, a worker, Leo, said they closed their Sunnyvale store, but after learning that other markets on Mission Street planned to be open, they opted to do the same.
Those businesses that closed today have my complete support and solidarity.